Just off Fulton St. in Clinton Hill is an intimate restaurant perfect for a date or catching up with good friends. The Hill Café has a speakeasy feel, with its exposed brick wall, candlelight and wooden tables, but none of the pretention. A backlit bar sits in the center of the restaurant offering all the basic drinks as well as its own homemade pressed ginger juice.
The restaurant offers French cuisine with an American twist, or American cuisine with a French twist, depending on how you approach it (with a little Italian mixed in). Overall this works exceptionally well.
At first glance the menu looks pretty traditional—burgers, pasta, salads, seafood. But a closer look, and taste, reveals far more complex and satisfying fare. For starters, there’s the crab and shrimp fritters, a crispy, salty treat with just enough sweetness from the mango and avocado salsa. The moules frites are delicious (Prince Edward Island–mussels, white wine and garlic), but if you feel like something a bit more rich, definitely go for the moules gratinee—New Zealand mussels with crème fraiche, butter and garlick Persillade.
The roasted Cornish hen may be the least expensive meat entrée on the menu, but it was one of the standouts, hitting just the right balance of moisture and flavor. The side of fennel coleslaw and apple Calvados sauce helped to bring the flavor out completely. The pork chop with apricot sauce is also exceptional, with a chipotle glaze and light chestnut flavor.
But there is plenty here for vegetarians as well. Reading the description of the vegan ravioli on the menu, filled with asparagus, squash and tofu, with tomato olive sauce, had me very skeptical at first, but I came around to it after the first bite. The pot pie of red wine stew with wild mushrooms and root vegetables was hearty and delicious, and ideal for colder nights.
The Hill Café also boasts a wonderful back garden and an extensive brunch menu, both of which are certainly worth a try.
The Hill Café
17 Putnam Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11238