The small glimpse I got of Brooklyn I liked; it was calmer than the city, but still had lots of cute cafes and shops. We thumbed through 1980’s t-shirts in a typical Brooklyn hipster thrift store, wandered into a quaint book store (remind me to buy Steve Martin’s new book of his twitter feed), and a French style coffee house with delicious pain au chocolat.
Finally, we made it to Maison Premiere, where my cousin Max is the head bartender and beverage director. Hearkening back to the glory days of old New Orleans, the place is unassuming from the outside. In fact, had it not had a sign that said, “Oysters,” we might have missed it. But entering it is like stepping into your own Midnight in Paris experience, sans nagging fiance (well, I guess it depends on your date). The staff are all immaculately and stylishly dressed, and there was no lack of suspenders. The wrap-around bar is surrounded by small tables for two, and in the middle sits a working replica of the absinthe fountain from the Olde Absinthe House of New Orleans.
The menu focuses on shellfish–happy hour has a $1/oyster special from 4-7!–and the shrimp cocktail is killer. It was a big deal for me to want seconds of the shrimp; I usually hate it. The drink menu boasts a lot of absinthe, and thoughtfully crafted cocktails (juleps galore!). We found the staff to be super attentive and knowledgeable; the poor young guy serving us gave us a million tips and recommendations for the oysters. Coming from the desert, I had no idea where to start with them! I also particularly enjoyed the music in the background, old-timey jazz that made me wish I were there with some swing cats for a good jam (not that there was much floor space).
Another thing that I could sense was the overall observance of professionalism; the people working there seemed to truly care about what they were doing, which was providing a memorable and high-quality food and drink experience to their clientele. Maison Premiere has not gone unnoticed in the short time it’s been open; it’s been lauded in the New York Times, Esquire, and the Wall Street Journal, among others, and for good reason. If you’re in the Brooklyn area, or even just in New York, it’s definitely worth the (relatively painless) trip on the L to Bedford.