Vinegar Hill House
72 Hudson Avenue between Front and Water Streets, near DUMBO Brooklyn
$40 each for a group of 5, with drinks and tip
If you’re tired of the lumberjack look because you’ve seen enough of the same style at Freemans, Hearth and even the J. Crew Men’s Shop in TriBeCa, you’re better off going elsewhere. If you like plaid shirts and facial hair, plus a more accommodating service than any of those hipster places in Manhattan, Vinegar Hill House is just your place. (The couple who owns the restaurant met on the job at Freemans.) In a week’s time between my two visits, the vibe in Vinegar Hill House changed dramatically: it was the booze. The restaurant was a little more somber and comforting before they got their liquor license, but now with the hot toddies going around, the buzz is louder and, well, more intoxicating.
A lot has been said about the chicken at Vinegar Hill House and all the good things about it are true: it’s moist and liberally seasoned. But it is still just chicken, and at $16, it should be moist and well-seasoned. The Brussels sprouts were softer during my second visit and I wondered if they were baked that time around instead of roasted. The delicate squares of ravioli were just that, and the pork and trout dishes were without frills. All together, they made a nice meal even if everything is streamlined and very simple, capped with a slice of not-so-Guinness chocolate cake.
I do like a little adventure on my menu and nothing gets me more excited than something out of the box when it comes to classic dishes. I know Jean Adamson is a capable chef, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she brings out the guns as more and more seasonal ingredients come out in the spring. Perhaps it’s to keep Manhattanites away; and in this day and age of too many plaid shirts, that’s just fine with me.