Food delights in the Heights • Brooklyn Paper

Food delights in the Heights

I realize everyone is already missing summer, but here’s one voice — make that one appetite — in support of the luscious tastes of autumn.

Just when you can’t fathom eating another bowl of gazpacho, next week several Heights restaurants plan to unveil their latest seasonal creations.

Jack the Horse Tavern on Hicks and Cranberry streets will axe its cool summer soups, red snapper and Mediterranean salads in favor of toasty warm soups like apple butternut squash.

“You have to be more creative in the fall with root vegetables,” said chef-owner Tim Oltmams.

Oltmams said he gets daily requests for the braised short ribs, a favorite from last winter that will be making a comeback this Wednesday, along with roasted Brussel sprouts.

But the summer stock isn’t completely gone. Oltmams said he plans on using heirloom tomatoes and corn until the freeze hits his New England supplier.

He’s not the only one taking advantage of local purveyors. Montana Knox, sous chef at the Henry Street newcomer Oven, near Cranberry Street, also keeps his carte du jour local.

But Knox says he’s found a way to beat Mother Nature, getting his produce from a Massachusetts farm that grows indoor hydroponic vegetables.

“The quality might not be as solid as in summer,” said Knox, “but it’s still local.”

It’s also unique. Knox’s favorites are the toy box veggies, miniaturized versions of squash, eggplant and tomatoes. According to Knox, there’s no difference in taste. “It just looks awesome to stuff chicken with toy box squash,” he said.

Oven also tries to be socially conscious.

“We’re a small provider, so we try to support other sustainable focused farms rather than big multi-national companies,” said Knox.

Other fall favorites that will debut next week at Oven are a duck salad with sweet chili, a sea scallop squash linguine and lobster risotto. I’ll be there to check out the lemon cucumber.

“It looks like a lemon, tastes like a cucumber,” said Knox.

Oven may get its kicks from dishing up mini veggies and curious hybrids, but one block north on Henry Street, Le Petit Marche is all about heartier, meaty fall fare.

Slow-cooked lamb shank, duck confit, beef short ribs and coq au vin — which gives even pro-Iraq War Americans a reason to love the French — are some of the new menu staples that will debut next week. But the real reason to check out Le Petit Marche is for its rotating seasonal game specials. Venison, guinea hen and wild boar are just a few of the restaurant’s planned offerings.

Chef Rob Weiner gets his ingredients from across the globe, not letting seasonal limitations get in his way.

“With airplanes and jet packs, seasonality is almost a thing of the past,” he said.

While these restaurants prepare to slice up their new seasonal fare, one neighborhood staple isn’t changing a thing. Noodle Pudding, on the same block as Le Petit Marche, is packed six days a week.

“It doesn’t need to change a thing,” said regular Laura Jones.

True, the restaurant is great, but here’s one vote for changing with the seasons. Because as in any good relationship, you’ve got to spice things up once in a while.

Juliana Bunim is a writer who lives in Brooklyn Heights.

The Kitchen Sink

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