8.40pm, Monday 13th February, The Royal York Hotel, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Just going back down to New York a couple of times to share two of the best stops so far on my trip.
First one: 5 Leaves in Greenpoint.
After our Winebow sales team educational session in Manhattan on Friday morning, I had two calls left to do over in Brooklyn, so I rode the L train on the subway from Manhattan to the second stop inside Brooklyn – Metropolitan / Lorimer. Here I changed to the ‘local Brooklyn – Queens crosstown local’, commonly known as “the G train”. This train doesn’t go into Manhattan, so the Brooklyn folk reckon that you’re not really a local over there until you’ve ridden the G. I got off at Nassau and went upstairs to the street level to track down the restaurant where our Winebow salesman Spencer “the Brainiac of Brooklyn” was to meet me.
I didn’t realize I was taking a photo of a local legend when I caught the G train coming into Metropolitan.
So I found 5 Leaves where Bedford and Lorimer streets dogleg and cross one block back off Mannhattan – which is the main drag of ‘Little Poland’, or the Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint. The green stripe canvas awnings strung with old style fairground globes wrap around three sides of the ‘baby flatiron shaped building’ that’s slotted into this weird wedge of streetscape.
Inside, it’s all lime wash walls with really high ceilings of tongue-and-groove skinny pine planks salvaged from an old Virginia farmhouse. Mounted on these boards are old fashioned “once were gas wick style” lights made from mild steel and wrought iron ‘found’ industrial salvage from Brooklyn sites by a local lad. His hanging globes on the end of steel rods with ‘tri wire’ fittings are unique … but fit! Even the beer comes up to the taps in the middle of the bar through the old galvanized beaten iron two inch water pipes and elbows.
The coffee is serious and stands out in a town riddled with franchises – even the aroma gave me a jolt! And for appetizers at 4pm? Spencer and I got stuck into a plate of Devils on Horseback.
These are fresh California Medjool dates wrapped in crispy bacon – something that they do so well in this country. Creamy granuley and caramelly soft sweet dates with the salty bacon … excellent. And the music? All vinyl folks, with the sound system plugged into an old turntable behind the bar.
We tasted through a whole dose of wines that were opened earlier for the sales team event with Josh the 5 Leaves wine man, and we stayed so late we nearly missed our dinner appointment on the other side of Brooklyn. It’s an easy thing to lose track of time at 5 Leaves, and we’re thrilled to bits to have our Yalumba Y Series Viognier on the list at such a neat address.
No wonder the place is jammed from open door to close down. It’s no accident, it’s just great food, great drinks and nice folks … slotted into a nice corner of Greenpoint. Go. Soon.