absinthe and oysters at maison premier

Visible only by the bar/oysters sign swinging gently in the rain is Maison Premiere, a new oyster house and cocktail den on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg Brooklyn. Inside, you will find a cross between a Paris bar of the 1930s and a  New Orleans speak easy. The vibe is a little burlesque, a little grungry and a little Donald Draper.

The bespectacled waiters and lacy waitresses serve cocktails, oysters and other raw bar delights. The only choices there are to make here are what to drink and which oysters to choose from the 22 or so varieties offered. 

This place definitely transports you for a moment. Everything about Mason Premiere has been considered, even the tiniest details. It rides the current wave of decor that nods to Hotel Delmano or Freeman's. Maison Premiere has a slightly decrepit and battered look. Portraits of someone's ancestors line the walls, oil lamps flicker quietly against the cracked plaster, even the wooden pull chain toilet is meant to transport us, if only for a bit, to another time.

We ordered both East Coast and West Coast oysters. Our favorite, hands down, was the Beau Soleil; a small creamy, sweet, almost buttery oyster, from Neguac, New Brunswick .

Maison Premiere offers dollar oysters monday through friday 4-7pm. So go, sit, and sample a dozen or so. Try a glass of absinthe (they have the largest offering of premium absinthes in New York City) or have a cocktail or a glass of bubbly and allow yourself to be in another time.

THE SWEET spot

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A couple of years ago,we discovered a new cafe in our neighborhood, Oro Bakery Bar. We started frequenting it every morning as it was just on the way to our parking garage. Unfortunately, at the time I was off caffiene and they don't see the point of decaf. I did however, indulge in the amazing breakfast pastries. They are made fresh every morning and chances are if you arrive early, the chocolate croissants will still be warm! Dorina the owner, was trained at the French Culinary after a career in finance didn't quite satisfy her soul. Lucky for us she chose the right path!

One of the most unusual things about Oro is that it is a sweet cafe in the morning and then transitions to a bar in the evening. It is the perfect place to grab a glass of wine and a quick bite and finish it off with something sweet. Try the mango cheesecake if you are lucky enough to pass by when it is in season. While securing a foothold in a neighborhood full of cafes that attract millions of tourists, Oro still manages to feel like our own neighborhood secret. It is never crowded and always full of familiar faces. They have recently partnered in a new venture, Lafayette Espresso Bar and Marketplace between Broome and Grand Streets. It is a great place to get a sandwich on the go while in Soho. I recommend a green juice called the mood changer. If you live in the hood it helps to combat the bastions of tourists with a smile!