Vinegar Hill House

Vinegar Hill House is named for its neighborhood, a 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 (never mind the obligatory anti-gentrification gripes on neighborhood blogs). The 40-seat space is the embodiment of warm and cozy, quirky but not off-puttingly so. It’s Little House on the Prairie crossed with Freemans, the relentlessly hip Lower East Side restaurant where the couple who owns Vinegar Hill House first met on the job. Like Freemans, but in a subtly different way, 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 cast-iron chicken, cooked in a sherry vinegar jus, is satisfying and tender. Accompany it with a side of heirloom tomatoes topped with ricotta and you have a feast fit for a Navy Yard rear admiral, if not a brooding Vinegar Hill artist. — Robin Raisfeld and Rob Patronite

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