Monday, January 21, 2013

Neighborhood Jewel, Hill Cafe

While Brooklyn is one of the largest cities in the US by population, geographically it's fairly small. A collection of a few dozen neighborhoods that vary in size, it's a surprise when visitors see how two adjacent neighborhoods can be so vastly different. We've been exploring new stretches of the city we call home, and it's been quite a learning experience.

On a cold evening, we wandered into the Bed-Stuy neighborhood to admire the beautiful residential architecture. Unfortunately, when dinner time wandered around we found ourselves stumped for options, as the only thing we had seen were fast food joints along the unappealing Fulton Street. We set out for Fort Greene, with its impressive density of great restaurants, but were daunted by the long walk in the cold. And then, as the garish storefronts of Fulton Street petered out, we found ourselves in the little strip known as Clinton Hill, straddling the border between the gentrified Fort Greene and the old Brooklyn of Bed-Stuy. The tiny menu out front of a small restaurant captured the moment, with a mixture of classical French dishes along with modern American food.

Hill Cafe was a great choice for the evening, offering a cozy refuge from the cold. We sipped a couple of cocktails to chase away the chill, while we considered the menu. The menu was packed with hearty winter dishes: we enjoyed a rich beef bourguignon and a shepherd's pie washed down with a couple of glasses of red wine. The dishes were simple and elegant, created with approachable ingredients, and well-executed. Our meal seemed perfect for a neighborhood balanced between the old and new.

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