WINE DINE & FOOTLIGHTS
I held a glass of red wine by candlelight less than an hour after I walked out of my apartment on the Upper West Side. In the wake of traveling 40 minutes by subway, I entered a 19th century storefront on an unfamiliar street. I was inclined to pretend that I had escaped to a quaint Hudson Valley town for the evening. But I hadn’t. I was still in town… I was in Brooklyn Heights.
Tucked about half-way down cobblestone Columbia Place –– a one-block street between Joralemon and State in ‘Willowtown’ –– you’ll find Store #9 Iris Café. Charming and cozy with a country town-like feel, Iris is the type of neighborhood haunt where you can’t visit only once in a while. One stop is all it takes to be hooked, and you’re bound to return, if not immediately for dinner, perhaps for pastry and coffee.
The place feels so yummy inside (even before you’ve bitten into any item on the menu) that you’ll insist on grazing at your tiny table for hours on end. In fact, if I lived closer, they’d surely get sick of me.
Mike and I shared a variety of dishes, all of which were innovative and unbelievably tasty. Iris’s offerings rotate seasonally, and the chef adjusts ingredients accordingly. What can you expect to find on the menu? There will be bright, colorful pastas with just the right amount of flavor, perfectly grilled octopus that might be the best you’ve ever eaten, and a selection of unique starters that could include brussel sprouts croquettes, pumpkin carpaccio, shisito peppers, and hen of the woods mushrooms.
Whatever your choices, you’ll realize that the ingredients are impeccably fresh, and these eats are made with love. Portions are modest. You’ll do best if you order multiple plates for a tasting-type menu. I recommend a minimum of two dishes per person for an average eater. Even with an appetizer and main course (plates are on the small side for an entree), you should have enough room for the coconut pot de creme or the gianduja chocolate cake. (Splurge!)
Wines by the glass are interesting with an array of choices (Italy, Provence, Sonoma, Argentina) to complement the food. And the cocktail selection is far from shabby for a small, neighborhood joint, with classics like an Old Fashioned, a Sidecar, and of course, a Manhattan (you’ll feel miles away) rounding out the list.