It’s taken as sacrosanct around the Datehole offices that dinner and drinks is the lamest thing one can do on a date. But there are ways to turn “dinner and drinks” into “Dinner. And Drinks!” As always, it’s all in the details, and in this case the details are all in Red Hook.
Your trip to Brooklyn’s Red Hook starts with one of the city’s most underrated activities, a ride on the NY water taxi. It’s a boat. But it’s a taxi. But it’s a boat. And you know what boats are? Sexy. As. Hell. Hemmingway. Fletcher Christian. Sonny Crochet. All boat men and all sexy.
(Note: This is best as a weekend date as service to Red Hook is limited to weekends.) You can get on the water taxi to Red Hook from the West 44th, Chelsea Piers, West Village, World Financial Center, or Battery Park stops.
Tip: We recommend the West Village stop as the ideal jump-on point. It keeps the boat ride just long enough but not too long. From West Village Pier 45 park (just across the West Side Highway at West 10th St.) to Red Hook is about 30 minutes.
Tip: Be at the front of the water taxi line and when you get on the boat head straight for the back and go upstairs. Sometimes it is full. Ask the attendant to keep you in mind as “next up.” When others come down from atop, he/she should let you up first.
Tip: The trip from the West Village includes a slow cruise past the Statue of Liberty which, while touristy, is actually quite poignant.
Tip: Go aboard the water taxi from the West Village at the 6:10 pm or 7:10 pm departure times to get the best near-sunset lighting.
Tip to make you seem smarter: The front of a boat is the BOW. The back is the STERN. Standing looking forward (BOW) your right is STARBOARD; your left is PORT.
Once you go ashore: Turn right off the gangplank, down to Van Brunt St. and then left up to Tini at 414 Van Brunt St. (5 min. walk). A very small beer and wine bar run by an exceptionally nice woman, Tini has an excellent – excellent! – cheese plate. It also serves organic stuff from the Red Hook Community Farm. You’ll have to ask for what’s what.
Tip: Make sure to specifically ask for the bottle when ordering off the menu or you’ll get two glasses. And you’re going to want a bottle. We had the $22 white and it was fantastic.
Tip: Ask for the cheese plate. She’ll hand make it for you and explain everything. We had a lot of wine so it’s hazy; but there was one rosemary-fed-goat cheese that actually tasted like rosemary. Plus the whole thing didn’t cost more than $15 or so.
Tip to make you seem smarter: In 1950 Arthur Miller was hired to write a screenplay for “The Hook,” a tale of corruption, unions, longshoremen and gangsters along the docks based on an actual NY Sun investigative report (which won the author a Pulitzer). When asked to change his original draft, Miller refused. The film eventually became On the Waterfront.
Where: Red Hook Water Adventure
When: Weekends (Saturday’s best) in the late afternoon. Shoot for the 6:10 pm or 7:10 pm water taxi departure.
Getting There: Water Taxi West Village Pier 45 park just across the West Side Highway at West 10th St.) Schedule here (the bottom one). Take the 1 train to Christopher St. and walk 10 minutes; or L train to 8th Ave. and walk 15 – 20 minutes. But it is a nice walk.
Getting Out: When it comes to convenient transportation, Red Hook is less serviced than a condom machine on 27th Street. We strongly recommend writing down the numbers for Eastern Car Service (718-499-6227) and Cobble Hill Car Service: (718) 643-1113. A trip to Manhattan is around $22 - $25. If you’re going to walk out to the subway, prepare for at least 30 minutes and be aware Red Hook isn’t the safest at night. Continue up Van Brunt to Commerce St. and turn right. Under the BQE to Smith.
Cost: Depends. But plan on at least $100 (for two): Water Taxi = $20 / Tini = $40 – 70 / Getting Out = $25
Tip: If you have time, swing by Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie (204 Van Dyke Street), which is excellent authentic key lime. If it’s endorsement from Al Roker isn’t enough for you… Unfortunately the store’s hours are chaotic. Fortunately, it’s only a 5 minute walk from Tini.
Tip: If Tini’s full, or if you’re still in the ‘hood at 9:00 pm, head 5 minutes up to Hope & Anchor at 347 Van Brunt (at Wolcott). H&A is a Red Hook staple with great beer and good bar food. Also, from Thursday to Saturday starting at 9:00 pm there’s a quite lively karaoke scene. While Datehole has never karaoked on a first or second date, we think it’s a fantastic idea, even if our date wouldn’t.