Summer in the Mountain(s) 

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Black Mountain Wine House
415 Union Street, Carroll Gardens
(718) 522 4340

Nothing against summer in the city, but sometimes don't you just wish you could close your eyes and escape the thick, sticky air, the unbecoming footwear on the subway, and the omnipresent buzz of a million air-conditioners? Well, for a little respite, take the F-train to Carroll Street, and follow the traffic up Smith and hang a left on Union. Stroll past some brownstones and front yard gardens. Take a deep breath. Unwind. On the corner of Union and Hoyt, young skateboarders are videotaping each other's prowess outside PS 32. Across the street, behind a wrought iron fence, you'll see a country-home façade—wooden slats, stained glass windows, a heavy barn door—affixed to the first floor of the corner building.

This is Black Mountain Wine House, and even if you've never been inside, the bartender is friendly enough that you can probably convince yourself that you're visiting an old friend. If you aren't too proud to drink something pink, order the Juice ($8). Made with Lillet, apricot nectar, Vermouth Bianco, and bitters to balance the sweetness, it's aromatic and refreshing—summer in a glass. A glass of the house wine ($6.50), is always a good deal, too, and there are many more well-priced red, white, and bubbly options, which servers are happy to explain. No wine-snobbiness here. In fact, the "sparkling" section of the menu includes a High Life tall boy for 4 bucks.

In the wintertime, a roaring fire makes this tiny wine bar a cozy hideaway, but it's a solid summertime nook, too. The walls are lined with shelves of bottles, the lights are always flatteringly low, and the daily menu is scribbled on a large chalkboard. All the food offerings are priced at $10, but they vary in size. The simple goat cheese tart, layered with roasted beets and potatoes and a touch of balsamic is lovely, but too small to satisfy a big appetite. If you're in the mood for a larger salad, opt for the cool, crisp, and more substantial Nicoise—which promises "really expensive canned tuna," with a hard-boiled egg, green beans, black olives, and feta. For something a bit more manly, order the house panini, which is piled with mortadella, bacon, Swiss cheese, quince aioli, and hot peppers. Summertime just got a little more delicious.

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