Chef Samuel Beket may be best known for the Ivory-Coast influenced flavors of his former restaurant, Kush, in Clinton Hill, but he insists he’s been there, cooked that.
“The neighborhood shifted, and I needed to shift with it,” explained Beket. “That’s why I restructured the restaurant as Hill Café [in early February]. I wanted to do food that represents what Brooklyn is now. A menu without borders. African, yes, but also Mexican, Italian, and French.”
The globe-trotting concept may sound like a recipe for disaster, but Beket’s commitment to simplicity and seasonality — along with flawless technique, learned at seminal French restaurants both here and abroad — creates an improbable bridge between baked penne and vegetable tagine.
“We’re dedicated to making delicious food, no matter what culture it originally comes from,” said Beket. “It’s all about satisfying people’s palates.”
Beket is particularly excited about an upcoming addition to his summer menu, sea bass with baby bok choy and fingerling potatoes.
“It’s a powerful dish,” promises Beket. “It’s light, but comforting, and will appeal to anyone with any taste. This is definitely what you’re going to want to eat this summer.”
And if you want to eat it — like, right now — here’s the recipe to try at home.
Sea Bass Filet with Baby Bok Choy and Fingerling Potatoes
From Hill Cafe
2 ounces shitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
10 heads of baby bok choy
10 fingerling potatoes
1/2 ounce julienned shallot
1/2 tablespoon sliced garlic
2 ounces julienned leek
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 six-ounce sea bass fillets
Sunflower or olive oil for deep-frying
Salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste
Cook potatoes in boiling water for seven to 10 minutes, and set them aside. Cook bok choy in remaining water for two minutes, and set them aside.
Heat the oil to 350-375 in a high-sided pan or pot for deep-frying, add leeks, and fry until crisp and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Scatter lightly with salt.
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat a few more tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan until hot but not smoking. Sear the fish on both sides, about three minutes a side, and finish them in the oven until cooked through and opaque. Set aside.
Remove excessive oil from the pan. Reheat the pan to low heat. Add garlic, and cook for one to two minutes. Add shallot and mushrooms. Stir for another minute, add bok choy, and deglaze with balsamic vinegar and vegetable stock. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.
Arrange on plates as desired, and serve warm.
Hill Café [17 Putnam Ave. near Grand Avenue in Clinton Hill, (718) 230-3471].