Red Hook came to my attention as part of the New York Times ongoing expedition to ‘discover’ the deepest heart of Brooklyn.To visit it I had to overcome two rather large hurdles. First of all, its near complete isolation from mainstream Brooklyn, and secondly the belief strongly held by one member of my family that we would all suffer some sort of violent and horrible end there. It took some cartographical work, a print-out of the offending New York Times article and the last three years of Brooklyn crime statistics to get this journey off the ground.
Red Hook is a formerly rundown, now rapidly gentrifying area on the outer fringes of Brooklyn. It was pretty badly battered by Sandy and the repair work continues, with scaffolding and hoarding dotted throughout the place. It feels like it is a million miles away from New York with its peaceful main street, garden centres and cobbled streets leading down to the waterfront. Most New Yorkers seems to know it only for its IKEA, which provides a waterlink to Manhattan. I knew it as the setting for the Marlon Brando classic ‘On the Waterfront’, and the home of the best lobster roll in New York.
The Red Hook Lobster Pound offers fresh lobster along with a few lobster themed dishes. Despite its luxurious main ingredient, it is not a place for an elegant meal. The kitchen and counter for orders are located in one building, along with large saltwater tanks filled lobster, with an indoor picnic area decorated with photographs of New England a few doors down the street. It doesn’t serve any alcohol.
An insanely reasonable $16 buys you the best lobster roll I have ever tasted. They are served Maine style (chunks of cold lobster meat dressed with light homemade mayonnaise) or Connecticut (warm with butter) on split hot dog buns with a large pickle on the side. We tried both, with the Maine winning the vote. This is seriously good stuff. The dressing on both is light, and everything is clearly intended to showcase the wonderfully fresh chunks of lobster meat used. It was rich,buttery and melt in the mouth, none of the chewy stuff you get with precooked lobster. We rounded it off with a shared portion of chips (fries) for a perfect lunch.
Afterwards we wandered down the mainstreet to the Fairway Market, the best supermarket I have ever seen in my life. I like foreign supermarkets, it’s a weird thing, accept it. From the back terrace, in the sunshine, you can see across the water to the Statue of Liberty, Staten Island and Manhattan. If you want to find a part of New York unlike any other, and enjoy the best lobster roll money can buy, this is the place for you.
Red Hook Lobster Pound,
284 Van Brunt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
P.S. Full disclosure – If you don’t fancy the trek to Red Hook (although I really like it), Red Hook Lobster Pound do have a food truck in various locations in New York throughout the week.