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For those that are less adventurous and rarely leave Manhattan, Hill Cafe, located in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, may seem like it’s a little off the beaten path. However, based on my recent experience at the restaurant, it’s worth getting out of the usual bubble to experience it.

When you walk into Hill Cafe, it seems like a regular restaurant/bar, until you walk into the back, where it appears to be a cozy weekend getaway. The wooden tables and current Christmas decorations make the space seem like a cabin in the woods, complete with an outdoor seating area and fire pit.

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Adrian, the General Manager/ Mixologist/ Server/ Jack of All Trades started us off with Hill Cafe’s Apple Pie Hot Toddy, which was a mix of apple pie moonshine, honey, lemon,  apple cinnamon tea, with a granny smith apple chip and homemade apple pie filling garnish. The perfect complement to the home-like setting.

Other cocktails we tried were the Peach Berry Fizz, with strawberry infused vodka, peach puree, topped off with magic hat #9 and the Mendoza, with house ginger juice, hibiscus iced tea, strawberry infused vodka and garnished with vodka infused strawberries, which were not for the faint of heart!

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When it was time to begin tasting Executive Chef Samuel’s modern French/American cuisine, we were not disappointed. We started with the Kataifi Shrimp and Grill Naan Pizza, which were both delectable in their own right. The shrimp were crispy with a juicy inside and Hill Cafe’s take on pizza gave it an innovative twist.

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For our second course, we were treated to a frisee salad with Seitan croutons, dried blue cheese Vol-Au-Vent and the Chevre salad with mixed greens, pickled beet, warm crisp goat cheese, and apple compote atop a piece of crostini. Adrian warned us it was filling and he was not kidding! For salads, these dishes alone were satiating, but together, there were a lot of food. A party of two would only need to split one of these for an appetizer.

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Our main course consisted of the Grill Brook-Trout and Beef Bourguignon, which was served with a side of mashed potatoes. The trout may have been one of my favorite dishes of the night. It was light and cooked to perfection and the herb butter, shallots, and garlic confit with asparagus and baby potato salad perfectly complimented the main component of the dish.

The slow cooked beef option was very filling, but also very tasty. The red wine sauce was perfect to pair on top of the mashed potatoes and the cube bacon stole the show of the entire plate. I’d love to see the bacon incorporated in additional menu options in the future.

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We finished our meal on a sweet note with the Peach Crème Brulee and their signature Sweet Plantain Tart Tatin with Rosemary-Jalapeno Glaze with homemade ice cream. Both desserts were extremely flavorful and our only wish was that we would’ve had more room in our stomachs to finish more of them! 

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Overall the meal was exquisite and a pleasure of an experience. We will definitely be back. My one recommendation would be to keep in mind that portions are large and that if you’re going to try one thing from this review, go for the Apple Pie Hot Toddy; it is life changing!

Hill Café offers a happy hour and every Wednesday, they host live music. They are looking to expand their themed nights in the new year. The restaurant also hosts brunch, where you can also get your bloody mary or mimosa fix.

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The space is also great for parties. Hill Cafe can accommodate a sit down dinner for 30-35 people, a buffet-style dinner for 50 people, or a summer cocktail party for 35-40 people because of the outdoor area.

Coming up, the venue will host a dinner for Christmas Eve for those around for the holiday. For New Year’s Eve, $65 will get you a four hour open bar, gourmet buffet and live music, not to mention a guaranteed good time.

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For more information on Hill Cafe, please visit http://hillcafe.net/.

- Stephanie

Photos courtesy of Stephanie Carino and Monica Lecusay