The Bell House
149 7th St.
Jim Carden and Andy Templar, the team behind Union Hall, were hardly the first to carve a music venue from a Brooklyn warehouse—but few have done so with their sophistication. Converted from a 1920s printing press, their ambitious Bell House brings a sizeable performance space with a decidedly Adirondack feel to crumbling-brick Gowanus. Two striking chandeliers dangle from the 25-foot arched wooden ceilings, while a buffalo silhouette looms over the stage, which hosts a lineup of mainly MySpace-launched bands for a crowd that’s young but pleasantly diverse by Brooklyn standards. An impressive auxiliary bar, backed by an enormous Hudson River School oil, means you don’t have to leave the music for another pint of Allagash White. But the Bell House’s intelligent design emerges most clearly in the swanky, low-lit front lounge—formal parlor meets exposed-brick Brooklyn, with candlelit bistro tables, generous armchairs, and inviting nooks for cozying up. On event nights, Williamsburg's Urban Rustic café sets up its food cart outside. Inside, the front bar room offers sixteen (mainly local) beers on tap and potent, well-shaken cocktails. With dialed-down music and ample seating, it’s a welcome respite from the eager crowds a room away.