Re-introducing you to the Eaters' Journal, in which we opine on meals of the week past, now with some help from Friends of Eater.
Vinegar Hill House: Absolutely packed by 6:15 on a recent weekend evening—so much for the elusive location. Wonder if neighbors are cool with all the traffic on their idyllic little street. Second visit came with a smart cocktail and wine list (no more BYOB), smoother service and, mostly, better food. But there's room for improvement—butternut squash tart was half baked and bland, mussels not the freshest (although the garlic-chili oil broth they were served in was spot on), and spare ribs came with too much gristle and silver skin. Menu too small (5 apps, 5 mains) for these silly mistakes. Still, with Paris-worthy rillettes and mousses, handmade pappardelle with rabbit, crispy cast iron chicken, and a knockout space, it's hard not to think Brooklyn's got another winning indie spot.—Andrew Knowlton
Socarrat: After an hour wait this Sunday, I enjoyed an addictively delicious meal of garlicy tomato bread and shellfish paella at the long bar that fills this sliver of a restaurant. The problem here (perhaps not a problem for some) is that the food is so good, the portions so generous, that one is bound to overeat. I find myself craving it, yet I'm never willing to commit to the wait or slightly high $23/head price tag.—Kludt
An Choi: Checked out that An Choi joint for lunch last weekend. From the architectural renderings I’d seen on the blogs, I thought it was going to be cavernous and noirish and Chungking Express-y. Nope. Small bordering on tiny, nicely outfitted but not over designed. I had my heart set on a banh mi when I left my apartment, but while I was looking over the menu, I heard this waiter goading another table into ordering pho for their hangovers. And I think I do always like pho best for breakfast, so I got the pho bo – pho with two kinds of brisket (the lean stuff and the fatty stuff) and those hot-dog like balls of processed and spiced beef (which I kind of love.) The broth was on the lighter side, but it wasn’t anemic or anything – definitely had the star anise/ginger thing going on, and by the bottom of the bowl, after I’d doused this or that bite with Sriracha or hoisin and let the excess run off into the broth, it was perfect. Totally fine with the noodles; the side plate of herbs, lime and crap to stir into the soup was generous and varied. The portion was moderate – which I like, because when I eat a whole bowl down at Pho Grand or wherever I feel like napping afterward – and with a good tip, I spent $12 or $13. I think it’s gonna be my pho spot for the next little while. (Especially if they get their shit together and start serving it for lunch during the week.) — Peter Meehan
Kyo Ya: This discreet Japanese small-plates eatery has the sort of attention to detail that I am convinced takes generations to cultivate. The staff was warm yet reserved, informative but succinct, at once reverential and authoritative. And the dishware: I've never been in a restaurant with so many incredible serving pieces. A different gorgeous glass cup would appear with each carafe of sake that we ordered (the drinks menu is well annotated and the waitress helpful with selections); one ceramic vessel, shaped like a bent tube, held an appetizer of elongated spring rolls stuffed with shrimp paste and fried burdock root (looking a bit like a fried flower arrangement). Must order: the exquisitely starchy whole sweet potato tempura; cured mackerel molded onto seasoned rice; sweet custard with plump spheres of mochi and glossy beans. I cannot overemphasize how beautifully plated each dish was. Impress anyone who loves food by taking them here.— Gabriella Gershenson
Sweetwater: Sweetwater in Williamsburg saved a nearly botched b-day dinner last Saturday. Birthday girl in question was told by Walter Foods that if her party of 4 arrived at 7:30, we would be seated within 10 min. We arrived eight minutes late, and the wait was an hour. An hour wait at Marlow & Sons and Diner, three hours at Dressler. Sweetwater had plenty of room, huge cocktails for $10, an impressive cheese plate, and a variety of decent, affordable, and sharable plates.—Kludt
Frankies 17: It's news to probably nobody that the sandwiches from Frankie's 17 on Clinton Street are delicious. But it should be noted Sicilian Tuna, Tomato & Arugula (on Grandaisy Bakery bread, natch) that I just consumed for lunch was the perfect fare for spring's first real appearance.—Lock
Frankies 17: The Spuntino begrudgingly delivered way out of their zone today with a little prodding to save a dire lunch situation. Their eggplant/mozz sandwich really is the best lunch option in the 10 block radius of Cooper Square.—Kludt