The first thing you see when you enter Williamsburg’s new Hoxton hotel is not a reception desk, but the glowing embers of a wood-fired grill. Octopus tentacles and swordfish steaks hang above the flames, while diners perch on stools at the surrounding counter. It’s a bold statement of intent for the London-based group’s first foray into North America, where food is at the heart of things. To that end, The Hoxton has partnered with two top Brooklyn restaurateurs, Jud Mongell of Five Leaves and Zeb Stewart of Hotel Delmano, to create its headline restaurant, Klein’s.
While the counter seats add a dose of drama, the separate dining area is more intimate, with leather banquettes and books behind each table (presumably for solo diners, or first dates gone awry). From the concise menu we order warm chunks of salt cod whipped with creamy potato and leeks, served with great slabs of toast for scooping; we happily scoop away until the bowl is clean. We also try a few dishes from the wood-fired grill; a plate of octopus, lightly charred and perfectly tender, is given a little extra kick from a chilli Romesco sauce. The Asian-inspired pork and shrimp skewers, meanwhile, come decorated with Thai basil, slivers of green mango, and a spicy bang bang sauce. Crispy on the outside but soft as butter in the middle, the salty pork is the perfect foil to the sweet shrimp.
Compared to the bold starters, the standout main course is a subtler affair, a fillet of salmon cooked medium-rare, daintily dressed with leeks, pea shoots and ginger-miso butter. It’s easy on the eye but packs a punch, with a soft, delicate texture that melts away in the mouth.
It’s worth saving room for dessert by pastry chef Celina Rella, who previously worked at three-Michelin starred Jean-Georges, and we happily finish off a rich slab of dark chocolate terrine with a Cognac-infused whipped cream and sweet orange candied almonds.
After all that, it’s a blessing our room for the night is one of the 175 upstairs. Anyone familiar with Hoxton hotels will recognise key traits, namely sharp design and public spaces full of comfy sofas and cosy nooks. Bedrooms are compact (this is New York) but gorgeous, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on to the Manhattan skyline. Three-course meal for two with wine $120 (£91). B&B doubles from $159 (£121), excluding tax.
Top three places to eat in Williamsburg
This Taiwanese-American restaurant has a menu of thrilling dishes including a wagyu beef tartare pancake, and hand-pulled noodles with spicy lamb.
Sunday in Brooklyn
A neighbourhood spot with great interiors, friendly service, and fantastic food including homemade soft-serve ice cream topped with toasted marshmallow.
The place that put Brooklyn on the culinary map. Arrive early for an epic breakfast, or settle down in the evening for oysters, and crispy black rice with glazed duck.
Published in Issue 3 of National Geographic Traveller Food.