Over the last month or so, I've eaten at three places that were new to me. Beer Table (Seventh & 14th) has been around a couple of years, and has garnered high praise for its 'carefully curated' beer selection & small, choice, menu. I'm not a beer expert, so I guess the selections were over my head, but the prices seemed absurd ($32 for a bottle of beer) & the description of one brew as redolent of "ripe banana" was not enticing. The prix fixe was OK, but a bit on the heavy, wintery side. My starter - roast beets with smoked sardines & sour cream - was quite tasty, but perhaps better suited to December than to July . My entree - caramelized bacon - was mostly fat (chewy fat at that), the accompanying roast potatoes were soggy rather than crisp, and the dish just continued the food for sub-zero temperatures theme. After a butterscotch pudding with apricot & seasalt (& I did like the crunchy grains of salt studding the dish) I was ready to brave a snowdrift or two. In all fairness, there were watermelon options on the menu, & I should have opted for at least one of them to lighten the meal. If you're a serious beer fan, and have money to burn, this could be the place for you. I'm not, and I don't, and it isn't.
Thistle Hill Tavern, on Seventh & 15th, is not exactly tavern like in atmosphere, consisting of a bright, unremarkable dining room, with bar on the back wall. Not much ambience here, with service, and a menu that is best defined as adequate. Thistle Hill's locavore culinary schtick is unsurprising, but it does seem to hit the p.c. jackpot in its online blurb, fitting in "locally sourced", "seasonal", "sustainable", "small batch", "artisanal" & "biodynamic" within the space of two sentences! All admirable stuff, of course, but without an ounce of conviction in presentation to the customer, & a pretty ho-hum product. Just toeing the current food line. I had a pretty decent milk-braised pork belly entree, but the portion was skimpy. Not much else to say really. It's a passable Slope restaurant, so it fits in well with plenty of other places in the neighborhood. If you want to go a decent South Slope place along similar food lines, but with a nicer vibe & a better executed menu, I'd suggest Lot 2 on Sixth & 29th, as a much better choice.
Out of Park Slope & over to Prospect Heights. Kaz an Nou, on Bergen Street, is a treasure of a place, with a Caribbean influenced French menu, and an owner/chef/waiter, Sebastien Aubert, who knows how to run a joint. This is a warm, slow paced, comfortable restaurant. Aubert expends enormous amounts of pride, charm & energy in describing his dishes & generally tending to the needs of his diners & the results show. The place is a haven of contentment. To judge by the weekday night I was there, he's doing well: the place fills quickly early on in the evening, & diners linger over their meals. With a BYOB policy & a fairly priced menu, why not? This is a spot you'll recommend to others, and where you'll want to establish yourself as a regular. We had curried snails & cod fritters for starters, & fish stew & lamb lasagne entrees. For dessert we split a mango mousse, chocolate cake with creme anglaise, & creme brulee. We left happy, and were not overwhelmed by a hefty bill. This is the kind of place every neighborhood needs.