Hill Cafe: A Diner’s Paradise in Clinton Hill

By Chelsea Herman & Alex DiBlasi

The back room in Hill Cafe is ideal for the laid back diner; pleasantly rustic and decorated with wooden beams and vintage light fixtures, sitting in their back room even in the dead of winter feels like a meal on a summer deck. In this unique space where quaint wooden walls and Mediterranean aromas meet, Hill Cafe is a little slice of paradise in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood. Offering a cozy environment for long meals and pleasant conversation, it’s nothing short of wonderful.

Alex and I started with red wine suggested by our friendly waiter, Adrien. The 2009 Clayhouse Adobe Red was a great start to our meal. What made this wine unique is that, as a blend of several different grapes, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Malbec, Cabernet Savignon, Syrah, and Petit Verdot, the flavor changes with time. What started fruity gradually became more tannic and full-flavored by the end of our meal. After starting us off with a lovely bottle, Adrien explained the menu as well as their Brunch menu and their Prix Fixe on Tuesdays-Fridays from 5-7pm. This $15 deal includes a starter of soup or salad, four entree choices as well as a delicious dessert.

We started with three petite plates: crab and shrimp fritters with mango and avocado salsa, hot chicken wings, and baked oysters. All three of these appetizers were the perfect size for two to share. The fritters were crispy and flavorful, the wings were glazed with a sauce that was sweet at first before the heat kicked in, and the oysters were very well seasoned. Another favorite amongst the small plates is Hill Cafe’s three-way Bruschetta which includes house-made hummus, olive tapenade and eggplant.

After enjoying our round of tapas, Alex and I were ready to tackle Hill Cafe’s signature burger (opening photo). Adrien explained that Hill Café is known for its burger, so we had to try it. After the first bite, Alex proclaimed, “If there is a heaven, this is on the menu!” Adrien was right. The burger was awesome: juicy, cooked to perfection, and topped with a fried egg!

Next we tried the Couscous Royal, which included Mediterranean lamb, chicken, merguez sausage with chickpeas, raisins and seasoned vegetables. This entree was also superb and had that home-cooked deliciousness about it. To finish off the entrees, we also sampled the Cote De Porc, a pan roasted pork chop with apricot, chestnut, grilled leek, and kale in a chipotle glaze. The pork was moist and was cooked with a lovely spice rub; the kale almost tasted like a good (spicy) miso. Both entrees were delicious!

To finish off our meal, we sampled two of their signature desserts. Our first was the Tarte Tatin, an upside down banana and apple tart with rosemary and jalapeno caramel sauce, the other was a Chocolate Fondant with black pepper ice cream. We were both drawn to these choices because of the unusual ingredients.They were both fantastic, the fondant being a heavy chocolate delight (and the black pepper ice cream worked surprisingly well), and the combination of rosemary and jalapeno was perfectly paired with the sweet flavors in the tart.

The Hill Cafe offers a great selection of delicious food, all with a reasonable price tag. It’s worth the trip just for the burger alone, never mind the incredible offerings throughout their menu, plus their brunch and prix fixe specials.

Hill Cafe is located at 17 Putnam Street, Brooklyn, New York.  For information or reservations call 718-230-3471 or visit them at www.hillcafe.net.

Photos by Chelsea Herman