Vinegar Hill House: a mixed review

Ok so I’m not afraid of other boroughs or anything but I am primarily a Manhattan person (for now). It’s where I live, it’s where most of my friends live, it’s where I work, and grocery shop, and eat out, etc.

But I recently announced excitedly to a group of people that it was my first! time! in Long Island City! and received pitying looks in response.

It was an eye opening experience and prompted my decision to get out more.

So last Friday, my boyfriend and I tried to get out more by going to dinner at Vinegar Hill House. It comes highly recommended on The Infatuation, which I defer to, but not so highly related on Yelp, which my boyfriend defers to.

Let me break down this review on a few fronts: location, food, and ambiance. (We were essentially eating in the dark so the pictures are awful but I’ll include them anyway…just know you have been warned.)

The location: Someone on Yelp mentioned that they thought they were going to get mugged on the walk from the subway and I was like “Oh pleeeeeease everywhere is safe in New York these days.” This is not true. In fact, we did feel like we were going to get mugged on the walk from the subway. It’s fairly isolated, poorly lit, and an intoxicated woman stumbled up to us asking for “fire” by which I think she meant a light but neither of us smoke so we couldn’t help.

Fast forward to us speed walking to the restaurant and me spying a dark storefront on the corner and shrieking, “They’re not CLOSED are they!? They TEXTED me to confirm!” my panic increasing by the minute, and my boyfriend being like, “Calm down, the restaurant is next door.”

Anyway, short story long we got there and it was open and nothing really happened but it was kind of a weird vibe.

The food: The problem with being allergic to dairy is you can never share a cheese plate with someone and most people want to share a cheese plate with you. There’s a constant sense of being a disappointment. Fortunately, Vinegar Hill House lets you buy a single cheese for a fairly reasonable price ($6). So my boyfriend got to have his cheese and we “shared” the lamb pastrami (LIES I ate all of it).

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Solo cheese
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A tangle of pastrami

Oh. Wow. Lamb pastrami. I can honestly say this is the most interesting thing I’ve ever eaten, and I don’t mean “interesting” in the way my mother told my best friend growing up to say something was interesting when she actually thought it was revolting. I mean this was actually a fascinating combination of flavors. Lamb is pretty distinctive, pastrami is pretty distinctive, and this dish puts them together with a sharp mustard and watercress.

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For a main, my boyfriend got the tagliatelle with pork ragu and I had a bite and it was pretty good. I got the pork chop because the Infatuation said to. It was…honestly…overwhelming. In many senses. In the sense that there was a TON of meat, and that that meat was 70% fat, and that the part that wasn’t fat was pretty rare (aren’t you not supposed to eat rare pork? Oh my god am I going to die?), and that it was served with a copious amount of mustard green pesto which I’m pretty sure is a “less is more” kind of thing, on top of sauerkraut which is definitely a “less is more” kind of thing.

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That said, my boyfriend finished what I didn’t eat so it could have just been me. Last but certainly not least, we got the cornbread and it was a unreal, and by unreal I mean insanely good. It’s basically dessert because it’s so sweet, caramelized on the outside and drenched in butter.

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The place: Saving the worst for last and I’m not sure if I should even mention this but…whatever. So, our table was in the basement and I was a little disappointed because they have a nice back garden and it was warm out. But the basement was well decorated and romantic and probably very cozy in the winter. Everything was cool until someone at the table next to us saw a mouse scurrying to and fro.

I mean ok, it’s a basement next to a garden in the middle of nowhere so it’s not like a GIANT health code alert but it’s my personal preference to not have rodents around when I’m eating dinner, if at all possible.

So that’s the good, the bad and the ugly. Vinegar Hill House wasn’t the best meal of my life but there were some high points. That said, probably won’t be going back.

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