Holding Hans with Brian Hansbury: Billyburg Guide to Date Spots or the Hipster Doucheocity Score

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Some people may wonder how hipsters ever get married.  Is a union realized when two people discover their tattoos are complimentary or that they shop at the same lensless glasses store?  Or like with most things hipster, do they rely on their parents who, through a WASPier yet similarly cliquish coterie, arrange a union between the daughter who went to Rollins and the boy who went to Middlebury?  I don’t quite know the answer to the question but I fear for the mental and epidermal well being of the poor children these gnarly newlyweds will raise.

I live in Williamsburg and consistently hear people tell me they know it’s a cool neighborhood with lots to do, but they never really come here.  Invariably something is mentioned about the hipster as deterrent.  This saddens me as it smacks of a classism straight out of the civil rights ’60s.  “It’s a beautiful part of town and I’d certainly go there if it wasn’t for all those dirty hipsters lazing about, mucking up the lunch counters and leering at my daughter.”  For the brave (and tween-less), I have compiled a Billyburg Guide to Date Spots (mostly close to the first L stop), complete with an awareness of the level of hipster douche one might encounter.  The lower the score, the more tolerable the environment.

Let’s start with coffee.  My dad used to always tell me a first date should never be anything more than an intimate coffee clutch.  With little excitement or distractions you’re forced, through actual conversation, to find out if you really like the person.  And if you don’t, well, you haven’t spent very much money to find that out.

Blackbird Parlour – 197 Bedford Ave.
I didn’t know the name included the “Parlour” designation before I actually looked it up.  Man, that’s douchey.  I’ve never been in the place, but I pass it every day and it’s large glass windows have told me all I need to know.  Coffee n’ cakes n’ sandwiches by day, wine bar by night.  Beware this review from an obvious hipster, “I’ve had two different waiters here, and both of them have reaked of BO…Overall, I’m a fan.”  Still, it looks nice from the outside and is really, really close to the Bedford L and therefore basically still in Manhattan.
Hispter Doucheocity: 9.2/10

Verb Café – 218 Bedford Ave.
IMO, this reviewer hits the nail square on the head: “The coffee here sucks, the staff’s attitude is terrible, the place is filthy and sticky, and it’s filled with the lamest Bedford trash ever.”  Okay, so maybe that’s pretty harsh.  And I would never call someone trash just because of their trust fund and horrible clothing.  And the coffee is actually not bad.  And they have this really great sandwich on pumpernickel with PB, banana, honey and cinnamon.  But seriously, most vomitous staff ever.  The kind of people who make you feel like an idiot for being alive.  It’s just coffee.
Hipster Doucheocity: 10/10

Oslo – 328 Bedford Ave.
This one is a hike at 8 minutes from the Bedford L stop.  However, apparently it has better coffee than everywhere else.  There is a flagship Oslo on Roebling Street that is more conducive for lounging, but apparently the staff there is nasty.  This one on Bedford is absolutely a terrible place for a date as it is basically just a storefront.  But grab your coffee and walk a few blocks north to the southwest corner of Grand and Bedford.  Sit on the stoop of the abandoned building there (a fave hipster past-time) and learn about your date in a great spot for summer people watching.
Hipster Doucheocity: 5.6/10 (You may see several hipsters here, but they are the friendly sort)

Let’s move on to fine drinking establishments.  My dad never told me anything about getting a girl drunk, but I wish he had.  It seems like the best way to get them to kiss you.

Lenora’s Way – 303 Bedford Ave.
There is a garden in the back of this place in which I have never sat.  That’s because you don’t get far inside before you notice the 100 bottles and cans arranged above the bar and available for drinking.  Once you taste whatever it is you’ve ordered, you really don’t want to move.  Relatively quiet with friendly patrons who just might join your conversation, this place offers tasty paninis and salads if you want to turn your boozing date into a dinner date.  The staff is the friendliest, most informative staff I’ve ever encountered anywhere ever.  And so far, I’ve only met one douchebag in there.  But he was a douchebag who loved great beer, so, truly, how bad can he be?  They also have a limited selection of really good wines.  Say hello to me as this is my new favorite place and I will more than likely be there when you come.
Hipster Doucheocity: 3.8/10

Radegast Beer Hall – 113 N. 3rd Street
Here’s a scenario.  You and your date have awkwardly not hooked up after several weeks of dating.  You need desperately to have one of those really drunk nights that inevitably lead to forgotten details (condoms) and torn clothing.  Head to the beer hall for seriously giant (and good) beers served by girls dressed as German serving wenches.  Their cleavage will get you in the mood and the large mugs will encourage your date to drink fast (large mug means beer gets warm towards the end and since no one likes warm beer a person will drink faster before the last third of the mug is seriously too warm).
Hipster Doucheocity: 5.2/10

Now on to some more traditional eating establishments.  I’m going to start with the most laid back (cheapest) and work my way up to the most romantic.

San Loco – 160 N. 4th Street
If you know the East Village or Lower East Side, you’re familiar with San Loco’s tasty spin on Mexican, laid back vibe and virtually non-existent seating.  However, N. 4th Street plays host to the spacious king of all San Locos.  Big booths with hilarious, western themed knitting on the seat-backs give way to a small bar towards the back.  Get some Chicken Guaco Locos and a couple Tecates then head to the pool table.  With frozen margaritas in those paddle-mixing slushy machines, this place is like if McDonald’s were Mexican and awesome.  Service can either be great or terrible depending on if this one lady who is a mental midget is there.  Bartender Paul on Sundays is pretty cool.
Hipster Doucheocity – 4.5/10

Fette Sau – 354 Metropolitan Ave.
If your date is a loser vegetarian forget about it.  Fette Sau (German for fat pig) is 100% meat (and some insanely decadent baked beans).  It’s a barbecue spot with no chicken and no particular adherence to regional BBQ styles.  Ask the guy behind the display case to pick out a pound of different stuff per person and he’ll give it all to you on a single, wax-paper lined cafeteria tray.  Warm yourself by the TV playing a video of a fire inside this rustic, converted auto-body garage.  The beers here are pretty awesome, too.  They even have a dark wheat beer, something I only recently knew existed after a trip to Germany.  The pork belly is the shit.
Hipster Doucheocity: 2.4/10

Wombat – 613 Grand Street
Tuesday is the new Dad’s birthday at this Australian/American spot.  Why?  Because we always had lobster on my Dad’s birthday and every Tuesday this place offers 1.25 lb lobsters prepared any of three ways for only $13.  My friends and I ordered two each and were told by our waitress that she had to check and see if that was alright (it was).  The message is, get here early (6:15ish) because it’s quite small and apparently everyone orders lobster.   A side of fries will round out your meal nicely.  Forego wet naps and head straight home to make the most of the buttery lube all over your fingers.
Hipster Doucheocity: 1.6/10

D.O.C. Wine Bar – 83 N. 7th Street
So, it’s your second or third date with a girl you like and you want to up the ante with a romantic night.  D.O.C. has you covered.  Outside is vinyl siding, inside is a 16th century Italian inn replete with the type of candle holders guys wearing sleeping caps carry in old cartoons.  This place is all about Italian wine and their panini is the best I’ve ever had.  Meat and cheese plates and pasta are all here as well, but what’s really nice is the friendly (read, possibly stoned) staff with their great wine recommendations and lingering eyes on your date (somehow you don’t seem to mind).  Unless your date is accustomed to eating at Le Cirque, this place is a real panty dropper.  Yeah, I said it.
Hipster Doucheocity: 1.1/10

There you go, kids.  Just avoid the Roebling Tea Room at all costs and you’re good to go.  Also, check out honorable mentions like Relish, Simple Café and Diner (although the latter is pretty douched out, the food is great).

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