You can pay what you can afford when eating at this cafe in Brooklyn

Nestled on Clinton Avenue right off Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill is Rethink Café, one of the city's first pay-what-you-can destinations, launched by nonprofit Rethink Food last year. All offerings at the Brooklyn shop boast a "$5 suggested donation" price tag, basically asking patrons to pay only what they can afford to.

To create the menu, the staff uses donated ingredients from a slew of local partners like Trader Joe's. And we're not just talking about the foods used to cook the various menu items on offer: you can expect a bunch of grab-and-go items donated by the likes of Stumptown Coffee to be prominently displayed as well.

Speaking of the menu: Every day, the café takes to Instagram to showcase the constantly rotating daily offerings. Today's, for example, include a "hearty plate of duck confit pilaf with raisins, caramelized onions, sautéed cabbage and leeks, seasoned with oregano, thyme and a sharp sherry vinaigrette." Yum.

Past delicacies have included beef sirloin tacos, a spring pasta salad with seasonal vegetables, a harissa coconut chicken dish, penne a la vodka with a side salad and even a soba noodle salad

Rethink Café
Photograph: Rethink Food

The creative concept isn't a mere gimmick intended to lure customers in. Rethink Food seeks to address food insecurity on a pretty wide scale by working towards two related goals: "to feed communities and help keep restaurants in business," as stated on the organization's official website. "In exchange for preparing community meals, Rethink Food provides grants to restaurants supporting a portion of their operating and staffing costs," it continues. 

Needless to say, 2020 made the need for change even more apparent than it always has been. Which is to say: although New York is slowly returning to a semblance or normalcy (vaccinated individuals no longer have to wear masks! Broadway will soon re-open! Sports are back!), we can't forget about the year we've all just gone through and the people that still need our help. Grabbing a bite at Rethink Café might not make that big of a difference, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

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