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“Vinegar Hill House”

  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out New American Brooklyn Moderate Good

If you thought Red Hook was remote, have a walk around Vinegar Hill, the sleepy historic Brooklyn neighborhood sandwiched between the Navy Yard and DUMBO. It feels like Red Hook as it was about five years ago, before LeNell’s, The Good Fork, and Fairway brought “development” (though I’d say of the good kind) to this former rough and tumble community on the docks. Vinegar Hill has a bit more innate architectural charm than Red Hook, however, and it does not require a subway and bus transfer to access (just the subway). It’s quaint, if desolate, and reminds me of a quiet, weathered college town—Pittsburgh or Bethlehem, Pa.—but one that bears marks of past greatness in the bones of its brownstones and the cobblestones etched in its sidewalks. It’s charming and a little spooky at the same time.

I had never been to Vinegar Hill before, and I was lured there not by the promise of the usual trappings of a Brooklyn neighborhood—home-roasted artisan coffee served in a ceramic mugs molded by local four year-olds, a hippie hand-crocheted knitting store, or some gangsta rapper underground poetry den—though any of these is clearly possible, if not probable, now that there is a hip and hot restaurant in the neighborhood’s mist. I was lured to Vinegar Hill by the talent of the chef, Jean Adamson, who previously cooked at Freeman’s, and by Robin and Rob’s glowing New York Magazine restaurant review.

I should let you know that I was not the only one who was lured to Vinegar Hill House last weekend. I was joined by about two- to three- dozen others on a crisp and blustery winter night, and we ascended from the subway with liquor bags heavy with wine (Vinegar Hill House is BYOB), and Google maps directions in hand, walking gingerly like Hansel and Gretel without a trail of breadcrumbs. The wind whipped up from the water as we turned on Front Street, then Water Street, and followed it to the end where it met Hudson Avenue, a lonely stretch of sidewalk with almost ominous views of the power plant. It felt like a sound stage for The Departed. Was that Leo leaning against the streetlamp finishing off a smoke? Alas, no.

The street was deserted and silent, that is until we got up about a quarter of the way and heard the din of crowds and conversation coming from behind a solid wood door marked 72. When we pushed the door open we came face-to-face with a melee. Crow ... [more, click below]

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“Sadly disappointed!”

Vinegar Hill House is a cozy little restaurant in a great little neighborhood. I really had high hopes for it. Sadly the food, overall, is not very good. My husband and I went during their soft opening. The menu is very small, but the prices were very reasonable. Sadly the food was just mediocre. We went back a couple weeks later to give it another chance. We were with a group and we all agreed that the food was not great. Not enough flavor, under salted, not cooked enough or under cooked.

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