A good roast chicken is something easily made at home. But a great roast chicken is somewhat more elusive. To coax the perfect crispy texture out of the skin, for the flesh to retain the ideal amount of moisture, to see that the flavor goes beyond that of just plain-old poultry — it all takes some good, professional kitchen equipment, not to mention mad skills.
That’s where chef Michael Poiarkoff comes in handy, in the home-away-from-home atmosphere of this Dumbo restaurant. Opened for five years (Jean Adamson was the original chef and is still owner), Vinegar Hill House has become as much a part of locals’ lives as their own living rooms. And the signature cast-iron chicken ($24) is that dish they’d love to master, if they only had the time. The bird is given the utmost care, serving it right in a scathing-hot skillet. In this version, sizzling shallots and herbs permeate the meat, while a bracing sherry vinegar mingles perfectly with the meat drippings.
The restaurant is named after a section of Dumbo, a moody cobblestoned enclave that still holds quaint charm of pioneering moms-and-pops, such as this restaurant. Inside, its charmingly ramshackle trappings, with sometimes-wobbly tables and a bric-a-brac decor, perfectly matches the menu’s homey flavors, especially embodied in that ideal cooked chicken.
Vinegar Hill House
72 Hudson Ave., Brooklyn