On Saturday morning, we headed to Brooklyn for breakfast at the charming and quirky Vinegar Hill House. As the name may suggest, this restaurant is in fact a re-purposed old house: the room separations are still apparent, and the place has a great rustic feel. The eclectic, quaint vibe is fully realised with random pictures of owls, countless cactus plants and ceramic vases, and gorgeous bouquets of wild flowers.
For me, like for many others, Bob Dylan is a quintessential, omnipresent New York figure; having his tunes soundtrack our time at Vinegar Hill House only accentuated the peaceful and happy atmosphere of the restaurant.
The brunch menu is everything but boring or straightforward: from “Peach Duck” (a concoction of peach schnapps, wonder bread and duck), to fried oysters in a Creole sauce, all the way to an octopus and zucchini omelet (made with salsa negra and pumpkin seeds), you’d be hard pressed to call this menu unoriginal.
Our waitress suggested I try one of their specials of the day: bacon, peanut butter and orange marmalade, sandwiched between two English muffins. I was of course a little sceptical, but the morning felt easy and breezy, and I decided not to overthink it and just let somebody else make the decisions for me; just to be safe, I also ordered a side of potatoes.
When I queried about the milkshake options, the waitress rummaged behind the bar and returned with an amusing suggestion: “The closest thing we have to a milkshake is Irish coffee”!
Surprisingly, the combination of flavours in my sandwich wasn’t at all troublesome. What did bother me was the shocking amount of fat on the bacon. The potatoes however, roasted to perfection and served with a generous dollop of sour cream, were phenomenal — I’m still craving them to this day.
But don’t worry if these extravagant food experiments don’t sound too appealing to you; like Kris, you can play it safe and opt for one of the more typical breakfast dishes on their menu, be it blueberry pancakes, poached eggs on toast, or Eggs Benedict.
We spent the best part of our afternoon in DUMBO browsing through shops like West Elm (surprisingly affordable); Baxter & Liebchen, a one-of-a-kind showroom for vintage Danish furniture that would bring any design enthusiast to tears; and an organic chocolate shop called Chocolate Earth, where owner Conrad Miller let us sample a few of his favourite delicacies.
We walked alongside the waterfront and discovered the majestic Bridge Park, from which the views of the three bridges — Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg — are simply magnificent.
Thinking we’d get to see a little more of Brooklyn this way, we opted for a bus to Williamsburg, rather than heading underground to the subway. We got off on Bedford Avenue, the neighbourhood’s hip and pulsating main artery.
Our prime destination was Smorgasburg, an open-air food market/food lover’s paradise — but we couldn’t resist the many boutiques that populate the area: PinkyOtto, Red Pearl, Ugly Luggage… before I knew it, I had tried on a dozen dresses, admired thrice as many pieces of vintage dinnerware, and sniffed an innumerable amount of candles — because, from my understanding, that’s just what you do in Brooklyn, and also because, as you may have noticed by now, I’m a little obsessed with those three things.
We finally got to Smorgasburg around 4 in the afternoon, but it was already too late for many of the most popular foods, and most tragically, too late for the lobster rolls. Fortunately, there were more than 50 stalls in the ginormous lot (Baby Got Back Ribs, Bon Chovie, Milk Truck Grilled Cheese, Solber Pupusas, Taste of Ethiopia to name just a few), and we were quick to find a lamb burger and a fish sandwich to feed ourselves. We also indulged in a chocolate, pretzel and dulce de leche graham pie, and a truly delectable plum and sour cherry popsicle from People’s Pops. In passing, we also picked up ultra-delicious jams from Anarchy in a Jar.
We headed to the Brooklyn Museum for the Keith Haring exhibition, another powerful, innovative, politically minded and practically unavoidable New York figure. We were also eager to explore the Center for Feminist Art on the 4th floor of the museum, where The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago is a permanent installation. This was perhaps the most impressive, humbling and memorable non-food-related experience of the whole trip for me.
Sidenote: every first Saturday of the month, the Brooklyn Museum is open until 11 pm and admission is free. Though this seemed exciting at first, it was a definite mistake. We had seen packed museums on free-admission nights before, but we’d never seen anything quite like this. The museum was overflowing with people and obnoxiously loud, the line-ups for the restrooms and for the elevators were unbearable, and the parking lot was an unmanageable street party. Take it from me — if you want to visit the Brooklyn Museum, do it on a different day.
After that exhausting time at the museum, we were glad (and admittedly surprised) to find no line-up at Momofuku Noodle Bar. We had read that this restaurant was extremely popular at any given time, but especially among the late-night crowd, since, yes!, it stays open until 2 am every Friday and Saturday night.
The mood was ultra casual, the service ultra friendly, and the music ultra cool.
We shared a plate of pork buns, a bowl of Momofuku ramen (with pork belly, pork shoulder and a poached egg), and a side of roasted potatoes (with beurre blanc, shiso and fried ramps) which were absolutely exquisite (you may be under the impression by now that potatoes are always our favourite dish of any meal… and you may be right).
For dessert, we enjoyed a spiral of peach and burnt honey soft serve, and some strawberry and lemon cake truffles. What are cake truffles? Little balls of tangy lemon cheesecake coated in sweet, crunchy strawberry milk crumbs; bite-sized pieces of soft, doughy, buttery perfection. The ice cream was pretty great too… but man, those cake truffles were incredible.
DAY 3: We brunch at one of my most anticipated restaurants of the trip, witness an experimental/punk rock/feminist puppet show in a soon-to-be demolished warehouse, spontaneously jump on a boat, dine on Japanese “tapas”, and are publicly embarrassed in a crowded bar.
Vinegar Hill House
72 Hudson Avenue
Between North 6th and 7th Streets on the East River
Brooklyn Museum / Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art
200 Eastern Parkway