One of my best meals a couple of years ago took place at a tiny bar / restaurant in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, where I had amazing seafood and vegetable dishes in a cozy setting. I liked the original Bergen Hill’s tiny space that screams a neighborhood gem all over the place, and the consistency of flavor and texture in all of the dishes was quite remarkable. Since then, the restaurant moved to a bigger space in Manhattan’s downtown Cooper Square. On my recent visit with my girlfriend, the new space didn’t feel quite as warm and inviting, but I was obviously more interested in whether the high quality of food is still there. Overall, I had a good but not great meal and the experience didn’t feel as magical as my previous visit.
The menu at Bergen Hill doesn’t seem to have changed all that much, which was a bit of a bummer since I was hoping to see a lot of new dishes that weren’t on the previous menu. Still, my girlfriend and I enjoyed the fennel hummus toast with caramelized fennel puree, orange, walnut and feta on top, a combination of healthy-looking ingredients that worked together quite well for delicious bites. Hen of the woods mushroom that I enjoyed last time in Brooklyn was just as good, with mushroom puree below that added another dimension to a well-cooked mushroom with moderate level of seasoning just to my liking.
While the vegetable dishes were just as impressive as last time, the seafood dishes unfortunately had some shortcomings. My girlfriend remarked (and I agreed) how hamachi (Japanese amberjack) didn’t feel fresh enough, and the combination with white soy ponzu, onion and jalapeno was surprisingly forgettable. I had high expectations with langoustine that the server said would come along with risotto, fried oyster and mussels. It was a delicious dish (I can never say no to risotto after all), but this time seasoning was a bit of an issue and there wasn’t enough shellfish on top to make it a more fulsome dish. For dessert, the kitchen only had on option with sweet coffee ice cream accompanied by walnut crumble and caramel sauce that was serviceable.
Getting a reservation at Bergen Hill is not always easy during the weekends, so make sure to book early. There is full bar with some impressive cocktails on the table (after all, that I was another thing I really loved about the original place back in Brooklyn). I wish Bergen Hill had stayed in Carroll Gardens; the vibe, the food and everything else felt more magical back then although it is arguable that my taste has also changed over time since 2014. Anyways, it is a nice place to visit if you want to see how seafood and vegetables are made in creative fashion without a ton of fanfare.
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 7.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
Address: 64 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003
Telephone: (212) 260-2182