A restaurant that doesn’t just tolerate noisy children, but actually encourages kids to be kids, is practically nonexistent in Brooklyn. Marc Glosserman, the founder and CEO of Hill Country Barbecue, has four children in the city, so he (along with his wife, Kristen) know all about the challenges of restaurant eating. Rather than retreating home for every meal, he came up with a delectable solution: a restaurant that actually entertains the entire family. Hill Country Brooklyn, located in downtown BK, serves incredibly kid-friendly food (mac and cheese, sausages, cupcakes), and the enormous top floor hosts weekly Fam Jams (every Sunday from 12pm-4pm) that include a bluegrass band, a padded area for blocks and games, face painting and other activities to keep children engaged while the adults actually get a chance to talk and eat. Additionally, every Monday in May and June from 10:30am-11:30am, Audra Rox will be on hand hosting a drop-in Music for Aardvark class ($20). This fun attitude towards food is also reflected at home with his kids, where barbecue is typical and a sweet tooth is always indulged.
Brooklyn Based: You have four children, right? What are their names and ages?
Marc Glosserman: Austin (7), Skye (6), Jaclyn (4), Geena (2)
BB: Eating out at a restaurant with four kids must have its challenges. What advice do you have for other families brave enough to attempt it?
MG: Pick a place that is family friendly (kids menu, crayons/activities, etc). Kids have short attention spans. They will be patient for a brief window and then fade. Go early so you have a better chance of getting seated and served quickly. Sit down and order. We often skip appetizers and opt for family style.
BB: Are these challenges why you started Fam Jam Sundays at Hill Country?
MG: Yes. We realized that there are many families in and around Downtown Brooklyn looking for a place to socialize with their kids on the weekends. Hill Country happens to have a large space that can accommodate groups, strollers, and general child commotion. At Hill Country’s Fam Jam we provide live music, food, spirit, and entertainment to keep the little ones engaged. In the suburbs this might be going on in someone’s basement or backyard. Because we have kids of our own, we are especially in tune with what families want.
BB: What kinds of eaters are your children?
MG: They range from extremely daring and adventurous (our six-year-old loves ikura–salmon roe) to basic meat and potatoes (our oldest craves brisket, fried chicken, and peanut butter sandwiches).
BB: What’s a typical breakfast like for you and the kids?
MG: Usually Kristen or I will make a full breakfast for the kids–lots of fruit, eggs, toast, and oatmeal. A couple times a week we’ll break out the griddle for pancakes or French toast.
BB: What’s a typical lunch like for the children?
Barbecue and chicken often. Sometimes turkey sandwiches or pizza.
BB: What are you go-to dinners for the family?
We’re clearly biased, but we eat out a lot at Hill Country Barbecue Market and Hill Country Chicken. Kristen cooks a few nights a week. Baked salmon, shepherd’s pie, and taco night are three of the most frequent requests.
BB: How often do you all eat at Hill Country?
At least a couple times a week.
BB: What are your favorite restaurants to go to or for takeout (besides Hill Country)?
MG: As a family, we take out from Shake Shack every once and a while. Chinese (Homes Kitchen) is a Thursday night staple (usually date night for Kristen and me). I’m a big fan of Indian food. Dhaba is our go-to in the city (the kids love chicken tikka masala).
BB: What do you always keep stocked in the pantry for last-minute meals?
MG: We always have chicken stock, celery, carrots, beans, and pasta around. If the fridge is empty, we make soup.
BB: What’s your policy on introducing new foods or encouraging your children to try things they aren’t interested in?
MG: Kristen and I love food. We make what we like and put it on the table. We don’t force the kids to eat anything, but we expose and encourage them to eat new foods on a regular basis. And no dessert unless they’ve eaten something nutritious.
BB: What’s your policy on junk food and sweets?
MG: I have a sweet tooth, so I’m pretty lenient. We have a lot of pie and ice cream around the apartment. Growing up dessert was always part of the meal. Kristen is more disciplined, but we let the kids have a sweet treat after dinner every night before they go to bed. Once they’re finished they brush their teeth and it’s time for bed. Dessert is part of the routine.
BB: Are there any cookbooks that you love?
MG: Alice Waters, Simple Foods, Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything, Geoffrey Zakarian, My Perfect Pantry
BB: Do you have a favorite BBQ recipe that you’d be willing to share?
MG: The truth is that I eat most of my barbecue at Hill Country, and when I am out East over the summer I mostly riff on the grill or with my Big Green Egg. Our pitmasters blow me away, so whatever I try myself is destined to be inferior to what we serve in the restaurants.