#WhereIKibou Greenpoint: with Food & Travel Editor Sarah McLellan Mee

Sarahmclellanny

Tell us about yourself!

I am originally from Australia but moved to New York 21 years ago to work as a dancer and singer on Broadway. After performing in musicals and then touring around the world in a rock band, I moved into a career in digital media (social media, marketing, and editing) focused on one of my favorite arenas—food and travel. During my time in the U.S., I have lived mainly in New York City but have also done small stints residing in Las Vegas and San Francisco. I’ve traveled to 23 countries and am lucky to share my love of travel with my husband, Chaz, who’s a born-and-raised New Yorker. We live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, near McCarren Park, and love it. We’re due to have our first babe (a little girl) later this month! 

Where did your love of food and travel come from?

Growing up in Australia, I was lucky to start traveling early. My mum had a natural love of exploration and taking trips herself, so she wanted to pass that on to me. We traveled a lot within Australia from my hometown of Bundaberg, Queensland, to other cities like Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, and then, when I was 12, we made our first journey overseas. I remember loving seeing different places, trying new foods, and exposing myself to different cultures and how folks lived in other parts of the world. 

sarahmclellan

What is your first lasting memory of traveling? 

I remember a flight and trip to New Zealand when I was only a toddler (I think I was probably 2 or 3). We then had a rental car and toured around the south island, and I think my mum still has this small stuffed animal that I brought home from that trip. Then as a kid, I made lots of road trips to go camping with friends and family, beach vacations, or dance competitions around my state. Flying became much more prominent as I got a little older, and then, by the age of 14-15, I was doing some solo travel down to Sydney for work as a performer. Teenage overseas trips included Japan, the U.S., England, and France. The most prominent memory was when I finally left Australia and moved to NYC at 17. Now, that was a wild experience! 

Did you travel a lot as a family growing up? How do you hope to translate your love of travel when you are a family of three?

I love that Chaz also has a big love for travel and adventure. He lived in England and Italy when he was a toddler and continued traveling as he entered adulthood. We’ve traveled so much already in our four years of dating/being married. We 100% want to introduce our daughter to travel as soon as we can. Hopefully, we’ll take her to Australia to meet my family in the spring of ‘22 (depending on safety and border openings with COVID). Still, I am excited to have travel be an essential part of her life. We’re lucky to have a car here in Brooklyn, so I think we’ll be making lots of little road trips upstate or out east while she’s young too. 

sarahmclellan

How did you transition from a Broadway dancer and rocker to a food and travel writer?

I was lucky to dive into my performance career pretty quickly once I landed in NYC. I made my Broadway debut in the revival of “42nd Street” when I was 20, then performed in the original U.S. company of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” musical in Las Vegas. I then toured through 10 countries performing over 300 shows as lead singer in an all-female Led Zeppelin tribute called Lez Zeppelin. That was an epic experience traveling and working—though I will say the glamorous “touring life” is not as glam as people think, haha! When I left the band, I wanted to incorporate things I was passionate about—like food and travel—into my next role. It was here I found myself naturally gravitating towards storytelling, writing, and sharing through social media. In the past ten years, I’ve worked in-house for restaurant groups, at agencies on the strategy side, as an editor (I was branded content editor at Bon Appetit for three years). I now run a digital media consulting business for small brands in travel and food.  

What is your favorite part about Greenpoint? Why is it such a special neighborhood?

I moved to Brooklyn almost six years ago and was lucky to find this gem of an apartment right in the heart of Greenpoint. I love that this area (for the most part) still feels like a bit of a village or smaller neighborhood in many ways. While there’s some development happening by the waterfront, it’s still primarily lower-rise buildings, lots of folks who’ve lived here for decades with a mix of new young families and other recent transplants from different areas of the city. It’s mostly quiet, and there are fantastic restaurants, bars, parks, and green spaces by the water. There’s still a lot of history here from Greenpoint’s Polish roots, including family-run stores, restaurants, pharmacies, and more. Chaz and I love that we can walk to the park or up to the water at Transmitter just to take time out and get some fresh air. We’re also SUPER lucky to have a backyard that we share with our two building neighbors where we can grill and garden and just relax. 

sarahmclellan

Now for all your tips. What is on your “Best of Greenpoint” list?

Best Accommodations:
Technically at the top of Williamsburg, you have Wythe Hotel, a staple in the neighborhood. They have beautiful rooms, excellent staff, and the bonus of a great ground floor restaurant Le Crocodile and rooftop lounge, Bar Blondeau. For a little more space and more apartment-style hotel rooms, you can try the Henry Norman. It’s slightly off the beaten track, but they have a complimentary hotel SUV to drop you where you need to be in the neighborhood. 

Places to Play/Family-friendly activities:
The parks are lovely (McCarren, McGolrick, and Transmitter near the water) and often have gatherings for kiddos like music class, art/crafting, and then soccer and mini-gym classes. My girlfriend loves taking her 2-year-old to run through the sprinklers at American Playground off Franklin. If you want to adventure south into Williamsburg, the redevelopment of Domino Park has been excellent for families with lots of green space, a massive playground, and a water feature with sprinklers too. 

Best Places to Eat:

We have lots of local favorites that we spend lots of time dining in! 

Edy’s Grocer for Lebanese treats, mezze, and our fave—bacon, egg, and cheese empanada with everything seasoning. 
- We also love the bagels at Frankel’s Delicatessen and a burger, caesar salad, and vinegar chicken at their sister restaurant, Bernie’s
Five Leaves is a staple and still kicks their breakfast out of the park (get those pancakes!) 
Salsa Pizzeria just opened a few blocks from us and has incredible Neapolitan-style pizzas and specials. 
Chez Ma Tante is on our regular rotation for date night, along with eating in or picking up fish to cook at home from Greenpoint Fish & Lobster
- We’re big fans of Di an Di for Vietnamese too. Lately, we’ve been back numerous times for the steak Frites au Poivre at Citroen. 
- For takeout, we often order from Bao Burg, Amami for sushi, Scalino for home-style pasta, and Italian. 
There are so many incredible options right here at our doorstep.

Best Shops:
-We always end up at Lockwood on Greenpoint Ave when we’re on the hunt for unique gifts and great greeting cards. They also have a great selection of books, games, cute clothes, and other treats for kids.

-Awoke Vintage and Alter for clothing.

-There’s a new spot I want to visit called Big Night which is a curated retail store dedicated to all things “dinner party,” which sounds right up my alley.

-I also love Burson & Reynolds and have bought beautiful holiday ornaments from them every year as a keepsake. 

-Finally, for baby and kid-focused shopping or gifting, The Wild offers an incredible curated selection (and sells Kibou!)

Best Grown-up time Entertainment: 
- Broken Land on Franklin They have an excellent bar and patio area, and I’ve always loved their martinis.
Greenpoint Beer We like walking up to the top and spending an afternoon on the roof 
- Spritzenhaus Pre-Covid, we’d spend most Sunday afternoons by the fire there. It can get a little wild on weekend nights, but the afternoon crowd was way more chill, including many parents with young kids all hanging and playing together.
- Hidden Pearl is a tiny speakeasy cocktail bar in the back of a Japanese restaurant, and they make killer cocktails. 

Best hidden gems / Spots that locals love?
Duke’s Liquor and Dandelion WIne are local favorites for all things delicious for your bar cart.
- Cup Coffee and Acre on Meserole because they have one of the best chocolate croissants I’ve ever had.
- Peter Pan is a must for old-school donuts
- Ovenly for decadent slices of cake + cookies at Mamaan.
- Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop for pizza 

And finally, what’s next on your travel bucket list!?
We’d love to get to  Australia ASAP. My husband has never been, I haven’t been able to get home for over four years, and now, we’ll have our daughter to introduce to my family and friends. We would love to go back to Japan after being in Tokyo for the finale of our honeymoon in 2019. And then, if possible, some time in Portugal or Spain would be incredible too.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

x