(Red) Hook Me In With Cobblestones And Key Lime Pies


The spring of my sophomore year, Zoe, Dan, and I went to a party in Red Hook. A combination of social awkwardness and a fully, if eclectically, stocked bar lead me to remember very little other than the cab ride there, and the reason I remember that is it took forever. Red Hook, from then on, was relegated to Brooklyn’s dustiest corners, somewhere between Bay Ridge and Bergen Beach. It was only when I moved to Cobble Hill that I discovered it wasn’t–that in fact, it was right next door. A lucky discovery, as Red Hook is, in my mind, as perfect a neighborhood as you’ll find in Brooklyn, a charming mishmash of civil-war era brick factories adorned with neatly painted signs, sturdy, spare brownstones and cheerful clapboard row houses, deliberately whimsical cafes, and sweeping vistas leading down to the harbor. [UPDATED TO ADD: Apparently, Red Hook, not too long ago, was our nation’s crack capital. But so long as you don’t go too far down Columbia, you should be fine.]

Today, you’re going to go there, and you’re going with a mission: obtain one of Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies (you will see why later on). So, let’s hit the road, yes?

I start out on the corner of Pacific and Henry, heading left, away from the Brooklyn Bridge. You can start elsewhere, but try to make it over to Henry before Kane St, please, because at Kane we’re going to bang a right, and then a quick left onto Cheever Place. Henry Street is gorgeously, quintessentially Brooklyn, with all its smart brick and brown and limestone, but Cheever is cuter, its buildings almost uniformly rosy and snug, not to mention surprisingly patriotic.

At Cheever’s end, take a right onto Degraw and then a left on Hicks, and bear with it for a block –only a block, I promise–and then it’s a right onto Sackett, followed by a left on Columbia. Columbia isn’t particularly nice, to be honest; it’s too wide, and there are too many nondescript cement blocks and shady bodegas. But you won’t be on it that long, and when it’s warmer out, you can amuse yourself by catching strains of the conversations that go on between the jowly old men who serve as gatekeepers for the street’s many pizza parlours.

Plus, you get to pass the bar on the right, and wonder whether it’s the real deal or hipster simulacra.

Once you hit Summit, you can bid adieu to Columbia and take a right. Summit is a pretty cool little diagonal, helped out by this slice of psychedelia, and framed, at its end, with one of those solid brick factories I was talking about earlier.

And now you’re at Van Brunt, which is awesome, in a nineteen-fifties midwestern city-meets-urban creatives sort of way, with great restaurants and lovely star-trimmed warehouse-type buildings and cobblestones (no need to go to SoHo now!) and a wonderful peaked old firehouse that would be more wonderful if some bozo had managed to keep his aerosol in his pocket.

Oookay, nearly there! You might not want to stray from Van Brunt, but you’re going to, once you hit Coffey St, where once again you will turn right. You take Coffey because of its name, and because of this long ream of barn red brick that faces a nameless little park and the harbor, neither of which you can see in this picture.

Cool, huh? Now you’re going to take a left onto Ferris St, stopping, if you’re not too cold, to admire yet another old factory. Take Ferris until you hit Van Dyke –it isn’t more than a block or two– and then you’ll see, straight ahead of you, a bristly fenced-in garden, the harbor, and slightly to the right, the prettiest factory building yet. If you like, you can go right first, down a alley/driveway that ends with a view of the statue of liberty.

And after, you can turn around, back to Van Dyke Street, back to the wooden sign with the dangling buoys, the sign that reads “Key Lime Pies,” and you’re going to follow its arrow right. You can stop to check out the garden, if it’s open–it wasn’t for me–or you can gather driftwood from the real live beachy bit, or you can go straight for the pies.

I think it’s far enough past new year’s to drop those resolutions, so bring on the pies. They only come in one flavor–key lime (though you can have it dipped in dark chocolate), and three sizes (4, 10, and 12 inch) and are each handmade by Steve, and handsold by a smiling woman who nods her head to the beat of Jack Johnson’s “Traffic in the Sky” as she counts change. Pies aside, Steve’s would be worth a visit for the decor alone, which combines the nautical, the carribean, and the odd garden gnome to make a very cluttered bakery-cum-workshop.

Once you’ve forked over your $4 for a small pie, you can either eat it at one of the picnic tables outside, or, if it’s the ides of January, you can squirrel it away in your bag, hoping it won’t break before you have a chance to photograph it.

And how was it?

As a relatively novice KLP-eater, I’d say three adjectives come to mind: tangy, juicy, creamy, with a side of butter-crumbly graham cracker crust. In two words: worth it.

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One Response to “(Red) Hook Me In With Cobblestones And Key Lime Pies”

  1. John Says:

    So…. Thats one way to spend an afternoon

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