Thistle Hill Tavern
3/4 Remind me again not to visit brand new restaurants, particularly in Park Slope. It only causes knee-jerk Yelpy reactions and that’s unfair. The food, which should be the focus, always becomes secondary and I end up not wanting to ever come back under more normal circumstances when all the kinks have been worked out. Sidecar, Alchemy and Ghenet are three not terribly recent examples that come to mind. First visits became my last.
(In my day life, I work with data so I think about numbers a lot even though I’m better with words. I've blogged about 29 restaurants in Park Slope since 2001, not that many. I've only experienced new restaurant blues at four, which would be approximately 14% of all of my Park Slope restaurant posts. The unusual discovery is that these four restaurants fall within my last six posts about Park Slope dating back to 2007. I wouldn't say that restaurants have gotten worse in the past three years. I think this is about food blogging becoming prominent and my feeling the need to visit new restaurants sooner than I used to. I am going to curb that behavior. )
Being quoted a 30-minute wait, to be seated at a typical squished two-seater in a crowded row an hour later when the couple who waltzed in 40 minutes afterward gets a primo table for four at the same time, is bad service and planning. It causes resentment and impressions of the food become tainted. Babies squalling at 11pm also guarantees a bad first impression (trying not to be anti-family, on the same day as the Fornino hubbub, no less. I have no problem with early evening dining for tots in this genre of restaurant–not so much Cafe Boulud–but I’m old and of an era when bedtimes for children meant something).
It seems that Thistle Hill Tavern is clearly serving a void in South Slope. The Wednesday night crowds prove it. It’s not a destination, otherwise, though. The gastropub menu hits all the right foodie points: pork belly, pickled ramps, grass-fed beef. On paper it works.
I shared the beet salad, not typically cubed or dominant but layered in thin circles and topped with peppery watercress. It could’ve been dull, but the breaded, fried blue cheese croutons kept things interesting and the scattering of pistachios didn’t hurt.
I tried the duck confit atop spinach with blue cheese and marcona almonds, echoing the salad I’d started with. A fine entrée.
The rib-eye, the most expensive thing on the menu at $24. I did not try this.
Admittedly, this is only an early glimpse. Places like this will either prove popular as is or find their groove. Check it out for yourself. I might not be their target audience.
Thistle Hill Tavern * 441 Seventh Ave., Brooklyn, NY