Laura Valk and Connor Gladney talk bowling, brunch and Brooklyn’s best burrito — plus life lessons learned at McGolrick Park
LAURA: I feel like The Gutter is kind of legendary in Brooklyn. I live close by, and Connor and I spend the majority of our time at my apartment, but we didn’t want to put my apartment on this. So every time we’re doing low-key social stuff or drinks afterwards, this is the spot. We’re not high-maintenance people.
CONNOR: I love the look of it. It has a ton of booze, it has a ton of seating —
LAURA: Also, any bars with activities — that’s it for me.
CONNOR: Yes. You can come in here to drink; you can come in here to drink and bowl; you can come in here to drink, bowl and play pool — or any combo.
LAURA: There’s also a venue in the back. It’s fun to wander into on any given Thursday, Friday, Saturday and see what’s happening.
CONNOR: I also just like to go talk to people at the bar. It’s not too loud. You’re not squished against the bar, you’re not screaming to the person next to you for them to hear you. We can just come relax, play it by ear.
LAURA: And you just sit here to wait to bowl for an hour usually, so it’s forced socialization — always good. [laughs]
CONNOR: That’s another thing, if you come in here to bowl. I hate going to a place where you just twiddle your thumbs. Here, you basically take your number and you get to drink while you wait. And all the sudden, before you know it, you get to go bowl.
+ On who’s the better bowler…
CONNOR: She’s actually better, but I don’t want to admit that.
LAURA: I think I might be better.
CONNOR: [leans into recorder] She’s better.
200 N 14th St, (718) 387-3585, thegutterbrooklyn.com
Four Five Six
LAURA: That’s our favorite spot in Brooklyn, hands down. It’s just a giant living room. You’re sitting on couches, and there’s live jazz…
CONNOR: The brunch is great.
LAURA: The brunch is amazing. It’s the only bar that I’ve ever been to by myself. I’ve never done that, but I’ll go and get a whiskey and sit and watch live jazz.
CONNOR: It’s such a great place.
LAURA: It’s one of the places you walk by, and you’re like, “Oh, this is why I live in Brooklyn.”
CONNOR: Actually, though! It feels like a one-of-a-kind place. It doesn’t feel like a place in Manhattan that’s cookie-cutter, shoved into some building because it’s popular or whatever…
LAURA: You know those places in Manhattan have, like, Brooklyn lights or Edison bulbs, trying to be something…
CONNOR: This place looks like it just has it. It feels real. There’s also great outdoor seating. And it’s quiet!
LAURA: [laughs] You really like quiet places.
CONNOR: I don’t like places where I have to yell to say nothing. I tell bad jokes, so the more i have to repeat the bad joke, the more I know it was even worse than I thought originally — I don’t wanna do that.
Four Five Six is also cool because you can go there in any mood and it fits. If you’re feeling energetic, you can go there, and somehow it works. If you just wanna veg, and you’re half-asleep and you want brunch, it works. If you’re emotional — it WORKS.
And when you look around, you notice something unique and weird every time.
LAURA: Like, oh! There are suitcases on the ceiling!
199 Richardson St, (347) 335-0056, fourfivesix.nyc/
CONNOR: That is the greatest burrito place ever.
LAURA: Hands down. No competition. The California Burrito…
CONNOR: Oh my God. First of all, there’s french fries in it. The amount of times I’ve budgeted for that place… it’s a $10 burrito, but you will find 10 dollars to get that burrito.
LAURA: It could be two meals.
CONNOR: That is true. It’s 10 bucks, but they give you a ton of food.
LAURA: It’s the best thing I’ve ever had in my life.
CONNOR: Oh, man.
LAURA: It’s so good. There’s nothing to it other than it’s the best burrito in Brooklyn.
CONNOR: The people who work there are super nice. I used to go with our old drummer Justin all the time and they would just chat you up when you walk in and actually wanna talk. Which is cool, because usually you go to places and they’re just like, “Here,” then walk away. This place, it’s almost like [if] you don’t answer, they’re like, “No, but how are you doing?”
LAURA: “It’s actually been a tough week for me…”
CONNOR: I used to go there a lot after writing or recording stuff. It was just the icing on the cake. Just getting to go, and you knew you got to eat that burrito.
LAURA: After rehearsals, I used to go to Lucha Lucha, take a burrito, get in my Uber, hold it until I got home.
CONNOR: You feel like it’s your baby.
LAURA: Wait ‘til I’d parked in front of the TV, got everything set.
CONNOR: It’s literally a sacred thing.
LAURA: It’s ceremonial.
CONNOR: I had a sad moment recently where it was late, and I realized Lucha Lucha was a block away. I walked by, and it was closed, and I got a little bit teary. But I was with my girlfriend at the time. And she started making fun of me. It’s just a good burrito!
In New York, there’s so much good food. But at the same time, there’s so much food. So it says something to have a place that really stands out to you that you will go out of your way to go to.
283 Nostrand Ave, (718) 399-3696
LAURA: When we get stuffed up, get tired of our surroundings… we’ll go play outside. It’s awesome. It’s clean and beautiful.
CONNOR: There’s a lot of adorable dogs. I love getting to play guitar and watch cute dogs walk by. That is my heaven.
LAURA: My neighborhood is so neighborhood-y. Remember that guy? He came up and asked to play our guitar, and was like, “Have you heard this song? Have you heard this song?” And he started playing and singing to us. And we’re like, “Okay, first of all, give me my guitar back…” But it’s a cool spot in that it’s kind of artsy and people are out there doing different things.
CONNOR: I’m gonna sound like a 50-year-old man, but it’s also cool because there’s a grocery store off of it, so you can go play guitar and then pick up stuff to grill. I’m also just a sucker for nature, and living in New York, any park I can go to is very refreshing. It feels like you can escape for a little bit.
LAURA: [It’s also] a good people-watching spot.
CONNOR: We’ve had times where we’ve gone to rehearse there and really adorable kids are at some daycare thing, and they’ll run up and just be cute. One time one of them had a toy, and one of the others wanted to play with it. He was just like, “You want it? Here, you take it!” It was just a weirdly childish, adorable moment. And I was like, I feel like I just learned something from that. Sharing is caring.
LAURA: We learn lessons at McGolrick Park.
CONNOR: [switches to broadcaster voice] Life lessons, brought to you by McGolrick Park. Sponsored by the grocery store on the corner.
Russell Street & Nassau Ave, nycgovparks.org/parks/msgr-mcgolrick-park/
LAURA: Pirate Studios is also near my apartment. It’s this DIY rehearsal space, which is awesome. It’s 24 hours a day, which is pretty unheard of. There are three rooms. And it’s all about the musician code, which is leave the room as you found it. And we’ve been to so many shitty recording spaces.
CONNOR: They smell bad, and the floors are sticky…
LAURA: Yeah, why is everything sticky?
CONNOR: You have to wrap your shoes in plastic bags…
[Pirate Studios] is just a nice rehearsal space. They’ve got a bunch of equipment. The rooms are comfy and warm. It’s easily accessible.
LAURA: Yeah. And it does feel like a built-in community. There’s always chitter chatter with the musicians coming in before or after you, too. We’re all kind of in this for the same reason, while at other places, you’re like, “Get out of my room.”
CONNOR: A lot of places, they just feel like a rented room, and this one feels more like you’re walking into a shared space. It’s cool.
19 Division Pl, (844) 274-7283, piratestudios.co.uk/nyc-rehearsal-studios
+ Connor’s favorite Brooklyn coffee shop
CONNOR: There’s one called Cup of Brooklyn right across the street from my apartment [in Bed-Stuy] and the people who run it are just so nice. It’s usually quiet, it’s the perfect place to go and work. It’s actually a very similar vibe to here [Gutter Bar], but obviously better lit.
LAURA: And nicer chairs.
CONNOR: Great prices, great coffee, great pastries, great sandwiches. And I get to walk across the street in sweatpants.
1071 Gates Ave,(718) 552-2221, facebook.com/CupBrooklyn
+ Laura’s favorite Brooklyn coffee shop
LAURA: Champion Coffee in Greenpoint. It’s really good coffee. Bad spot for sitting, but their branding is really good. That’s a weird thing to say about a coffee shop — okay, the coffee’s fine, but really I want the sweatshirt.
CONNOR: What should I get at the coffeeshop? Well, their sweatshirt’s good.
LAURA: So I keep going back.
142 Nassau Ave, (718) 383-3251, championcoffee.com
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Feature image: Ben Curry
[This interview has been edited and condensed.]