>> 6/26/11

72 Hudson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 522-1018

Operagirl, who normally resides in New Haven, decided to take up residency closer to Lincoln Center and decided to recruit my help finding a new pad. My reward? Dinner. I felt somewhat guilty when I first suggested Vinegar Hill House, since it's not cheap. But after three brokers, twenty apartments, and countless blocks it turned out to be a pretty good deal on her end.

Vinegar Hill is the easternmost part of Dumbo (or DUMBO, depending on how anal you are), brushing right up against the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It's home to a random peppering of old homes, brownstones, modern luxury low-rises and a few galleries. It's about a 10-15 walk from the F-train. Vinegar Hill House is one of the only eateries in the area and it takes on the role of casual local food joint, upscale restaurant, and cocktail bar. It oozes Brooklyn. The staff dresses exactly like its customers and its customers dress like wealthy hipsters. This should not come as unexpected given that we're in a trendy/wealthy section of Brooklyn and that the owner hails from none other than last week's Freemans, which I absolutely loved, but which was also somewhat hipstery. Hokey homey flourishes line the walls of Vinegar Hill House's dark interior and plaid shirts line the chests of its exclusively under-40-year-old patrons. You'll either love it or hate it.

Vinegar Hill does cocktails better than it does cuisine. In fact, the first thing I saw upon entering was a bartender fiercely shaking a drink. We started with two from the small list (they'll make whatever you want, but their signature drink menu has less than a half dozen) and were instantly impressed. Later on, we ordered two more and the impressing continued.

I wish I could say the same for the food, which was good but which didn't hit my tongue's g-spot in quite the same way. Operagirl's appetizer was the Caesar Salad. No gloppy salad dressing from a squeeze bottle here. They made the dressing the real way and it would have been a lot better if the croutons weren't "schmaltzed"... soaked in chicken fat. To be fair, Operagirl liked it. I can not say the same for myself. My appetizer was the Chicken Liver Mousse, served with a healthy topping of pistachios, some bread and some caramelized onions. This was okay, but not wonderful. It was cold, so was almost like eating liver ice cream. Smeared on the bread and topped with the onions it was more palatable, but I couldn't finish even this relatively small portion.

The entrees were better. Operagirl chose the Cast Iron Chicken, a half chicken roasted to a golden brown in a cast iron skillet, served with greens. It was a little dry, and while it was flavorful, it simply couldn't compare to a similar dish at Danny Brown in Queens, who serves the gold-standard of golden half chickens. I ordered the Striped Bass. This was very good, but the fish itself was extremely small and they used far too much salt. Vinegar Hill House gave this dish a Mediterranean slant by serving it on a bed of hummus and Greek salad (sans feta) and alongside a falafel patty.

I wanted a coffee, Operagirl wanted a dessert. She chose the Guinness Chocolate Cake topped with a sweet and delectably smooth cream cheese frosting. But as good as the frosting was, the cake could not stand on its own without it. It was far too dry and the Guinness, mixed with dark chocolate, made the cake an especially bitter one.

In conclusion, Vinegar Hill House is a good restaurant with a great vibe. The drinks are great but the food needs work, a surprise given the chef's resume. At the end Operagirl and I felt a little let down, especially when you consider the price of our pretty standard meal broke $80 per person after tax and tip. The service was fine, if distant, and the crowd, as I mentioned, is decidedly not-diverse in either age, ethnicity, or income. In other words, you'll either feel right at home or very far away from it.

Four drinks, two appetizers, two entrees, a coffee and one dessert totaled $133 before tax and tip.

[ © Copyright eateryROW 2011 ]
Vinegar Hill House on Urbanspoon


Anonymous,  October 22, 2011 at 4:56 PM  

You make some pretty big assertions about this place based upon one visit. I've spent a lot of time in this restaurant and I can tell you that you're unfortunately wrong about the diversity of the clientele - as "hipster" restaurants go, Vinegar Hill's is especially diverse, with weekday crowds drawing Manhattanites and Brooklynites of all ages, colors, and dimensions, and Friday/Saturday nights drawing crowds from around the tri-state area. (Australian tourists can't be held off no matter what day it is.)
VHH is not expensive unless you're too young or narrow to understand why $20 isn't too much to pay for a well-sourced half-chicken roasted with love, delivered by someone who really does care about your experience (remember that he just recited ten specials by memory for you and advised you on the weird and wonderful wine list) and doesn't flap plates all over the table before jamming his fingers into a trio of glasses to remove them, asking you as he all but turns away, "should I bring you your check?" If your friend can't afford that kind of experience, she should stop eating out so much and treat herself to something valuable every now and again.
Finally, the cake doesn't need to stand alone without the frosting because TOGETHER they comprise the menu item "cake." That was just a pointless comment. Like in any dish of multiple flavors and textures, they create something very special, and it's not bitter, but more-than-mildly sweet. It's not box cake, birthday cake, or Momofuku cake. You know now that if you're looking for something like those things, you won't find it at Vinegar Hill.

Jon Parker October 22, 2011 at 10:13 PM  

First, I don't really care if the chicken was roasted with the love of a matronly grandmother using all of the wisdom of her years, or a robot. If it was dry, it was dry. And it was dry. Dry = less than stellar performance in my book. This isn't up for discussion.

Second, I also don't agree about the cake. A dry loaf of cake that requires frosting for moistness is no better than a frosting so loaded with sugar that the only way to eat it without an insulin shot is to chase it with a pint of coffee. Personally, I think that cake should be moist and the frosting should be a compliment, rather than a requirement.

Third, did I mention bad service? Or just distant service? I thought I said distant.

Finally, I'm ticked pink that you can drop $80 on a meal whenever you want. Most of us can't. And when we do, we expect, well, I expect better.

That said, I liked Vinegar Hill House. Indeed, I didn't think it was nearly as bad as your comment implies that I thought it was. Maybe I went on an off night. Could be. But I don't drop in on places announced or have a magazine pay my way for fifty meals hoping to get a great one to wax poetic about. I go like Joe Shmoe would and get Joe Shmoe's food, Joe Shmoe's treatment, Joe Shmoe's check.

Post a Comment

Copyright Notice

The contents of this website/weblog are the property of its author and are protected under the copyright and intellectual property laws of the United States of America. The views expressed within are the opinions of the author. All rights reserved.

Readers are free to copy and distribute the material contained within, but such external use of the author's original material must be properly attributed to the author. Attribution may be through a link to the author's original work. Derivative use is prohibited. The borrower may not alter, transform, or build upon the work borrowed.

The author is free to change the terms of this copyright at any time and without notice. At the written request by the borrower, the author may choose to waive these rights.



$ $$ $$$ $$$$ $$$$$ 24 Hours Alphabet City American Asian Fusion Astoria Atlas Park Australian Austrian Bagels Bakery Barbecue Bar Scene Battery Park City Baychester Bayside Beer Garden/Hall Belgian Belly Dancing Beyond NY Bhutanese Bistro Boerum Hill Bolivian Brewery British Bronx Brooklyn Brooklyn Heights Brunch Burgers BYOB Cafe Cajun/Creole Carroll Gardens Cash Only Celebrity Chef Chain Chelsea Chinatown Chinese CLOSED Cobble Hill Cocktails Coffee College Point Comfort Food Czech Deli Dessert Dim Sum Diner Ditmas Park Downtown Dumbo East 40s East 50s Eastern European East Village Elmhurst Events Filipino Financial District Flatiron Flushing Fondue Food Court Forest Hills Fort Greene Fort Tryon Park French Gastropub German Glendale Gramercy Grand Central Terminal Greek Greenpoint Greenwich Village Harlem Hell's Kitchen Hoboken Hookah Bar HOT DOGS Howard Beach Indian Irish Pub Italian It begins... Jackson Heights Japanese Jersey City Korean Koreatown Kosher Latin Lenox Hill Lincoln Center LISTINGS Little Italy Long Island City Lounge Lower East Side Lunch Manhattan Meatpacking District Mediterranean Mexican Michelin Starred Middle Eastern Middle Village Midtown Moroccan Murray Hill Nepali New Zealand NoHo Nolita Noodles Norweigian NY Area NYC Institution Organic Other Outdoor Seating Park Slope Peruvian Pizza Polish Queens Ramen Raw Bar Red Hook Rego Park Rockaways Rooftop Russian Seafood Small Plates SoHo South African Southern South Street Seaport Spanish Sri Lankan Staten Island Steakhouse Sunnyside Sunset Park Swedish Tapas Tea Thai Trendy TriBeCa Truck Ukrainian Union Square UPDATED Upper East Side Upper West Side Uzbek Vegetarian Venezuelan Vietnamese Views Vineyard Washington Heights West 30s West 40s West 50s West Village Williamsburg Wine Bar Winery Woodside Yemeni

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009. Sponsored by: Website Templates | Premium Themes. Distributed by: blog template

Back to TOP