Black Mountain Wine House Hoyt St. and Union St., Carroll Gardens
Opening a bar on a weird street is always a risk. Because it’s a block off the busy strip of Smith Street, Black Mountain has a nice “come, share in the secret” feeling that will either establish it as a special gem (like the Brooklyn Inn) or doom it to bar graveyard (like… the ones I never went to). Here’s hoping it lasts. On its front porch, a friendly cluster of rugged Adirondack chairs encourage you to sit back, farm-style. Or mountain style. Something with nature. But really you’re on a quiet residential intersection in Brooklyn, and it’ll soon be to be too cold to sit in those chairs. The good news is that although the bar’s indoor area has a different vibe — less casual summer relaxation than rustic New England-y elegance — it’s also very appealing.
The interior is a warm open space with a brick fireplace, a quiet rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack, and attractive floor-to-ceiling shelves holding hundreds of bottles and wine accouterment. It’s the kind of place where it’d be great if one of the several 20-something male bartenders were my younger brother so I could come by and have a free glass of wine. Every day. Dozens of white, red, rosé, and sparkling wines are available by the bottle or the glass, as well as a small but thoughtful selection of beers (two Belgian brews on tap — Duvel and Dentergems — and several more in bottles).
The various wines I tried were excellent, and well served. The bartender was thoughtful, welcoming, and able to recommend with authority and without condescension. The extensive wine list features a variety of mostly European wines, bottles in the $30 range, the cheapest at $24, and most glasses at $7 or so. And if the wine-drinking gets you hungry, WHAT LUCK. Black Mountain serves several delicious small plates, such as white bean crostini, grilled eggplant salad, and daily specials like gravlax with cucumber salad, as well as desserts and a nice selection of cheeses and cured meats, all $4 to $12.
The only problem with the rosy-cheeked, earnest, tamed-lumberjack vibe is that I can’t tell what crowd it’ll attract come winter. The outdoor porch area is relaxed and summery, while the inside is bright, warm, and a little bit romantic (in… a masculine way) — and although the prices aren’t prohibitively high, they’re not quite for youngish magazine writers who go to bars a lot because they have no ability to adhere to a budget. But it’s the perfect spot for a light dinner and bottle of wine if you have those kinds of Hamiltons to throw around, which, if you can still live in Carroll Gardens, you do.