Tuesday, October 9, 2012


My new friend Andrew Cote, the notorious New York beekeeper, recommended I watch the movie "Colony", a recent  documentary on the demise of the honeybee population.  Ever since I saw it, I've had a different colony on my mind: the one out in Brooklyn's picturesque Brooklyn Heights neighborhood.  Its sister restaurant, Governor, recently received two sparklers from the New York Times, but I forgot about it before setting out to Colonie... on the early side, of course, because Colonie is another one of those no-rezzie Brooklyn spots that'll run up your tab waiting at bar if you get there at prime time.  We, instead, were seated swiftly, ushered past the bar

 up front past a nice, frondy living wall of ferns and coleus and spider plants, to the dining room  beyond.  There are tables at the periphery, but we sat right at the counter surrounding the kitchen- and got to experience a little bit of the incendiary heat that these guys suffer through (or revel in?) whilst creating their magic.  On a balmier night, the emanating heat might be somewhat unpleasant, but this evening a bit of autumn chill had begun to set in, and the stove's constant fire                of tnnn            added to the  coziness of the room.

We also got a little preview of what kind of food Colonie is dishing out.  The name comes from Brooklyn's original nomenclature of Bruijkleen Colonie, from the Dutch, and the food boasts a similar, hearty and rustic traditional flair.  Simply put, there is no fear of butter and sauce, of salt and seasoning.  In fact, if you do NOT want to know how much butter and salt go into your vittles, you might think about requesting a table out of direct view.  All the food we tried was robustly flavored, tipping the scales on the heavy side but evening things out with seasonal produce and the freshest

of ingredients.  Starting off lightly, we tried a modest beet salad, a melange of both golden and ruby, settled on a white porcelain plate smeared with a mustardy violet-scented beet puree which added novelty to its simplicity.  Nudging a little heartier were a small dish of ricotta gnudi with Sweet
100 cherry tomatoes, saucy little gems that burst (sometimes too enthusiastically) their juiciness over the tender dumplings.  Nicoise olives were minced over top, with snips of fresh basil, but nary a lick of sauce or dressing to provide coverage.  Luckily, the tender little pillows were unashamed to display themselves in their full splendor.

I'm not saying that there isn't care and finesse in Colonie's cuisine: plating a dish of seared scallops with sugar snaps and tiny carrots evidenced the usage of tweezers.  My halibut, however, came simply sauteed to bronze, squat atop a garlicky chiffonade of black kale, just softened with heat.  The pan juices werethickened and drizzled on top, and given a littering of bottarga.  Hanger steak was a classic preparation, served with a pungent garlic

and devastatingly good fries, irregularly cut so that some are crisp as the devil, some tender and spud-y, some skin-on, some center cut: something for everyone.  Served, these are, with a demure little crock of nothing less than Sir Kensington's ketchup (of Brooklyn, of course).    Goes without saying we couldn't resist a side of brussels sprouts, but these fried specimens almost had all the brussel cooked right out of
them, tasting more like savory popcorn than a vegetable, although nonetheless tasty for it.  Just very rich; the big bowl was unfinishable.  Colonie's vegetables prove even dirt candy can be "junk food".  Cauliflower in brown butter evidenced the wild abandon of butter usage: a huge knob of
butter hit the cast iron skillet, then another, then three meaty knuckles of the vegetable and a handful of plump caperberries.  Seared to a crust on each side, then slid with all its buttery lubrication onto a rectangular dish studded with crispy croutons, and veiled with a grating of lemon zest and a fat, silvery anchovy reposed languidly atop.

And with that, dessert was rendered superfluous, especially since the offerings at hand followed the lusty tract of the savories:  an apple tart or stone fruit cobbler might have retained its appeal, but sticky date cake, doughnuts or chocolate fondant waxed all too leadenly jejune to attract much enthusiasm.  Luckily, my generously poured Arneis lasted throughout the meal, and the final sips warmed to the room, taking on a sweetness masked by its initial chill.  With the richness of the meal, this was all the dessert I needed.

127 Atlantic Avenue
(718) 855-7500

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