In this 40-seat restaurant named after the neighborhood just north of Dumbo, chef-partner Jean Adamson cooks most of her seasonal American comfort food dishes, like a pork belly–and–collard green tart, out of a wood-fired oven. Inspired by Vinegar Hill’s industrial heyday in the 1800s, co-owner and designer Sam Buffa uses bleacher boards for banquettes and cast-iron shelf brackets.
Vinegar Hill House is named for its neighborhood, an anachronistically ungentrified precinct of Belgian-blocked streets abutting the Navy Yard, just north of Dumbo but nearly bucolic in comparison. The restaurant’s ambience and food are a good match for its setting. The 40-seat space is the embodiment of warm and cozy, quirky but not off-puttingly so. Vinegar Hill House is a period piece, with vintage-y wallpaper, rough-hewn-wood furniture, and old-timey lanterns giving off a soft, warm glow (and—watch out!— a trail of dripping candle wax). For no particular reason, a Colonial flag adorns one wall and part of a pipe organ hangs behind the copper-topped bar, where a pewter samovar dispenses hot cider. Rich cream-cheese-frosted Guinness cakes sit on shelves by the open kitchen, an autumnal version of the windowsill pies of summer. The braised lamb shoulder is a satisfying and tender, mingled with black chickpeas and melting fennel bulbs. Accompany it with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts or horseradish-enhanced mashed potatoes and you have a feast fit for a Navy Yard rear admiral, if not a brooding Vinegar Hill artist.
Vinegar Hill House
72 Hudson Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11201
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