Lastly a wholesome café for a meals wasteland in Brooklyn

I dream that I just ate goat cheese in Ocean Hill, the nutritionally poor neighborhood of Brooklyn where I grew up – and where “cheese” today usually means the bright orange mutation wrapped in cellophane.

But it’s the real deal at MacDonough Café (83 Saratoga Ave .; 347-221-0295), a sunny corner eatery founded in 2015 by Nadia and Benoit Busseuil, a couple who bought the long-vacant, four-story building they live also, in 2012.

Although new investment and new residents have revitalized much of Bedford-Stuyvesant, it has been slower to get to Ocean Hill – a flat neighborhood on the eastern tip of Bed-Stuy that was ravaged by arson and rioting in the 1970s. Despite a recent recovery, it remains a food wasteland.

Amid a sea of ​​sleazy Chinese and Caribbean takeaways and dingy bodegas, the MacDonough Café appeared like a miracle – a simple, L-shaped room made of raw brick and wood, with a long counter and lights pouring in from two sides. It offers healthier, tastier food than the county’s hardworking African-American and Caribbean-American families could easily find – like organic bread, fresh vegetables, antibiotic-free ham, and GMO-free oatmeal.

And tables and chairs. As recently as 2009, I couldn’t find a single dining place with seating in Ocean Hill.

“There were a lot of fast food options here that weren’t exactly good for your health,” says Nadia, 37, a former senior manager at Accenture Consulting. “So we buy everything we can, organically and without GMOs. We deal with fresh ingredients from our own production and without meat from animals that have been given antibiotics. “

She uses wholegrain and sourdough bread from local baker Old Poland, organic tea from Harney & Sons, and fair trade coffee from La Colombe. The home brew, Elise’s Coffee, is named after her and her husband’s adorable daughter (3 years), who delighted customers on Saturday afternoon while dancing from table to table.

The café serves healthy dishes such as avocado toast on bread from the local baker Old Poland.Stefano Giovannini

Nadia says her clients are a mix of “new people moving in and others who have lived here for 20 or 30 years. I keep our prices reasonable because we don’t want people to think we are only for those who are just here. “

The short menu is inviting and remarkably inexpensive. A wonderful grilled mozzarella, American, and goat cheese sandwich sandwiched between multigrain toast cost an incredibly low $ 4.50. A $ 6.50 veggie wrap actually tasted like beets, sweet potatoes, and roasted tomatoes in a flour tortilla.

Nadia knows that she can’t take things too far. “We want to add a little twist, but not too much,” she says. In Ocean Hill, a little twist is a smart step on the right track.

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