As expected from the Freeman’s pedigree, the decor is colonial shabby with all the idiosyncrasy of the Sporting Club and veiled with a refined ladies touch. But from the beginning, many elements of the night were working against us, let this be a lesson in the futility of the “I know someone” mentality, because even though we got hugs and kisses from the all right people, we couldn’t get a timely table… but the birthday party in the basement, the surprise health inspector, and the diners who obstinately refused to move to the bar long after finishing their desserts even after the hostess offer them a free round of drinks didn’t help either… so we waited well over an hour in the charming but cold courtyard while the hostess offered us the boorish table’s free round(s).
We began with a round of salads; I was quite fond of my Bartlett Pear Salad ($10) with an oily slab of roasted fennel adorning a crown of baby arugula festooned in salty white nuggets of pecorino. Personally I would have liked more pear less fennel but my friend felt the opposite so we traded some portions to adjust the salads to our preferences.
I also thought my BF’s crunchy mound of julienne young vegetables in the Shaved Market Salad ($9) was sapid and resourceful despite the fact that sharpness of caraway dressing overworked the plate just a touch.
My Cauliflower Ravioli ($13) held the promise of delicious wonderment, but delivered the blandest puree of such an otherwise promising vegetable. The serving of this benign “vegetarian option” is an insult to the prefect sweet earthiness that develops with simple roasting of cauliflower; compiled with the wood burning stove there was no excuse for the lackluster of this dish. The chopped apples tossed with the pasta held all of the puckering tartness of a Granny Smith but none of the caramelized sweetness of mingling in a pan of brown butter that one would expect. The faint sprinkle of cheese teased the tongue into begging for salt but there was none to be had.
My friend/birthday girl involuntarily spurted out “Are you kidding me!” when presented her with a scant Black Pepper Tagliatelle with Pork Ragu ($15). We could see far too much of the ceramic dish around the flat pasta ribbons littered with grounds of pork, and it appeared especially meager sitting next to the butcher block of rubenesque Red Wattle Country Chop with fist-like jerusalem artichokes. Even so, the gentlemen claimed the shapely mound of chop was not as plentifully as it appeared as he separated the inedible fat from the meat and threw it aside like a wonderbra.
The pallid response to every pasta dish emphasizes that Chef Adamson has not finely honed her skills on this delicately and I hope she considers expanding the “primi” portion of the menu to include other culinary area where she is more adept.
The Mashed Potatoes ($8) err on the side homespun; it has none of the decadent overt buttery fattiness that no one would dare add to potatoes in such flagrant amounts of at home. Instead it arrives with the texture of tiny potato chunks suspended in a dry low fat starchy mound that screams Idaho and tastes like the kitchen ran out of cream.
But for all of these disappointments, I must give the Roasted Delicata Squash ($8) my dearest accolades! The creamy richness of the squash puree coats the palette in savory sweetness and the toasty seeds sprinkled on top are a delightful counterpart of flavor and texture If I ever return, you will know me when I sit down and order 5 serving of the squash and nothing else… nothing else….
Vinegar Hill House
72 Hudson Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201