Colonie (127 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn Heights), the new restaurant opened by alumni from Public and Double Crown, and funded using Kickstarter, is already bustling on a Saturday night, taking reservations only for groups of five or more. On a recent visit we were promised an hour-and-a-half-long wait, but only ended up loitering at the bar for about 25 before we were seated. Speaking of seats, here’s a hint: Get one at the open kitchen counter at the center of the dining room for dinner and a show.
Like so many new restaurants these days, Colonie offers the option of ordering a bunch of small plates and sharing or having a more traditional appetizer-and-main-course combo. Vegetarian options abound, found in the small-plates, salad, crostini, and vegetables sections of the menu. (Although, it should be noted, not all vegetable dishes are vegetarian … who doesn’t like a little bacon in their Brussels sprouts?)
Among the small plates, the octopus salad ($12), which comes with thinly shaved fennel on a bed of Japanese mizuna greens and citrus-pickled onions, features the cephalopod cooked to perfection: charred on the outside, but still soft and even juicy on the inside. Sitting at the counter provided an explanation from a line cook: The octopus is braised first.
Another plus about sitting at the counter: freebies. The cooks, overseen by chef Alex Sorenson, love to send out tasting plates, especially to groups of attractive ladies on a girls’ night out (note: we were not one of these groups). We were offered a sample of the black risotto ($9) with crispy enoki mushrooms, more al dente than risotto is often served, with a deep earthy flavor highlighted by the enoki. The egg ($10) comes on a bed of Jacob’s cattle beans and spelt, with a side of sautéed wild mushrooms, the yolk just soft enough to bleed into the other ingredients: nature’s most perfect sauce.
A skirt steak with fries and winter greens ($24) came properly rare, but not bloody; the meat beefy and just resilient enough, and the fries dainty shoestrings. A striped bass ($19) was plump, if a little fat-heavy thanks to bits of guanciale tossed on top. The scantily starchy orzo it comes with could barely anchor the protein.
For dessert, we recommend four 100-calorie bites of foie gras doughnut holes ($8). (I’m merely guessing at the caloric content here.) The fatty insides squirt out as you pierce the shiny sour-cherry-glazed orbs with your fork. Hello, grand finale.