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A new American ‘Colonie’ opens — with your help — in the Heights

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Maybe Al Gore should take credit for this restaurant.

Colonie, the biodynamic, artisanal eatery that just opened last week on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights has more than just a great chef and three committed owners: it also has the power of the social network behind it.

Eight months ago, owners Elise Rosenberg, Emelie Kihlstrom, and Tamer Hamawi set up an account on the then-obscure fundraising website Kickstarter, announcing their eatery and seeking donations so that said restaurant could someday actually exist.

In exchange for cash, the trio offered incentives: pledging $50 to the effort got you a round of drinks for four people. A grant of $1,000 bought an eight-person, family style dinner.

The goal was to raise $10,000 by Nov. 1 — but by year’s end, the trio had raised $15,371 from 91 backers.

“Social networking is the greatest tool,” said Rosenberg. “We did it to raise money and to get the word out. And it worked.”

Like a charm, in fact; long before Colonie opened on Feb. 17, people were talking about the restaurant, the blogs had picked up the thread, and the foodie community in Brooklyn and beyond was watching.

It helps, too, that Colonie’s seasonal American menu goes hand in hand with Brooklyn’s latest trend: biodynamic eats.

“This is a trend, but we strongly believe that it’s the way to go,” said Rosenberg.

The menu, which offers rotating delicacies including romanesco cauliflower, scallops with kabocha squash, rabbit lasagna, and octopus salad with fennel and pickled onions, was put together by Alex Sorenson, who worked with the trio briefly at the restaurant Public in SoHo.

The beverage list also gives a tip of the hat to New York producers with wine on tap from North Fork and the Finger Lakes, and draft beer by Sixpoint and Ommegang.

The owners also embraced a sustainable attitude inside, hiring Brooklyn Heights architect Alex Meyers of MADesign created a farmhouse-chic style with a rustic wood ceiling and floor, old church pews for seating, plants in felt pockets hanging on a wall, and old mirror from the closed up toy factory resting over the bar.

Thirty minutes before it officially opened, the restaurant buzzed to life with black and gray clad staff lighting candles, slicing oranges, and arranging tables. A young chef bounced up to the bar and proclaimed that he wanted to make history.

“Food is our life,” she continued. “And we really want this to be a place you come back to.”

Colonie [127 Atlantic Ave, between Henry and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 855-7500].

Updated 5:23 pm, July 9, 2018
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