Me neither. Just like I’d never know about a dark alley in the Lower East Side if Freeman’s didn’t exist at the end, coaxing me in with their fantastic cocktails and delicious comfort food. Well, a handful of the Freeman’s crew went in search of new territory in which to settle and, hopefully, feed people. They crossed the East River into Brooklyn, passing by all the nabes we know and love and instead, putting down roots in a relatively untouched corner of Brooklyn named Vinegar Hill.
The result is the Vinegar Hill House, operating out of a cozy storefront on a cobblestone street filled with 19th-century buildings and not much else. The rustic interior is very much like Freeman’s, minus the taxidermy. I’m convinced the only people in the entire neighborhood were the ones who filled the wood tables, their relative warmth causing the big windows to steam up completely on this cold, gusty November night. Upon leaving, calling a car is imperative (the kind hosts are quick to call). You don’t want to wander the streets….not because it’s dangerous, but because the silence outside makes you think you’ve entered the Twilight Zone (not the most reassuring feeling after a bottle of wine).
The food is also like Freeman’s, in that it’s comforting, old-fashioned, and unfussy. My friend Erin and I devoured a roast chicken served in a big old cast iron pot, sides of horseradish mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, and a beautiful arctic char with black quinoa. For dessert, we had a Guinness chocolate cake with whipped cream and it was pretty dreamy. At the time, the restaurant was BYOB and officially not open. For all you Freeman’s fans, Vinegar Hill aficionados, and Brooklyn foodies, this place is one to try. Note: private dining room downstairs expected to open in the next few months, and in the summer, there may be a garden!
Vinegar Hill House: 72 Hudson Ave, nr Front St. Roughly $8 cab ride from downtown Manhattan.
Visit their website.