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VHH Foods — an all-day eatery in Brooklyn

View of VHH Foods from park above Doorway of VHH Foods looking in Heirloom tomato salad with saffron couscous at VHH Foods View of outdoor seating at VHH Foods Salad trio, heirloom tomatoes, and hanger steak at VHH Foods coffee and baked goods counter at VHH Foods Salad trio at VHH Foods view of Brookyn Bridge Park from roof at VHH Foods view of Manhattan Bridge from VHH Foods

We returned to Brooklyn on Sunday after a week and a half away and faced sights familiar, I’m sure, to many families upon return from travel: an empty refrigerator, a mountain of luggage needing unpacking, and tired-looking faces all around. In the name of making sure everyone turned in for the night with full bellies we pressed out the door once more, walking and scooting down along the Brooklyn waterfront to eat dinner at the newish VHH Foods, which opened in June. Part of the newly-developed Empire Stores complex along the East River in DUMBO adjacent to Brooklyn Bridge Park, VHH Foods fills a space on the ground level facing the river, just off the soaring atrium. We grabbed the very last outdoor table (indoor seating is available as well), and quickly ordered a range of dishes to share.

I’ve visited the restaurant by myself for lunch several times, both to dine in and take out, but this was our first visit for dinner as a family. It’s a perfect spot for casual meals – unfussy but delicious food made from local and seasonal ingredients, either enjoyed there, with beautiful river views and close proximity to many other attractions, or taken to go for convenience. We weren’t the only ones with the same idea Sunday night – two other families with small children were also enjoying an early dinner, with the planters that edge the outdoor seating area turned into an impromptu stroller parking lot.

As an all-day eatery, the menu at VHH is designed to transition smartly between meals. For breakfast there are pastries, avocado toast, a quiche, and breakfast tacos; at lunch and dinner there are sandwiches, vegetable-heavy salads, simply prepared proteins, and elaborate hot dogs; and filling in the gaps or rounding out meals there are smaller items like cookies, nuts, crackers, and olives, plus a full coffee bar, soft drinks, beer, and wine. The food is served quickly, and within minutes we were carefully trying to arrange a number of dishes on our small table: grilled hanger steak with harissa aioli, an heirloom tomato salad with saffron Israeli couscous, pulled pork with lime and cilantro, a large bowl with a trio of light summery salads, and delicious pull apart rolls, rich with butter. Should you find yourself with room for dessert, you can’t go wrong with the giant chocolate chip cookie, flecked with sea salt. We shared that and the yellow & white cookie, which was eagerly devoured by my daughter.

Though we haven’t yet tried one, VHH Foods offers what they call “Park + Family Meals”: full meals for takeout, designed to feed a family of four. With proteins (either one of the simple prepared proteins or four of the creatively-topped hot dogs), plus your choice of two salads, two custards, and four of the pull-apart rolls you’ll need only to add something to drink. I can see grabbing one of these meals to take outside, settling on the lawn in the park during the golden hour and watching the sun set across the harbor, or perhaps picking one up for lunch and heading to the playgrounds at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park so everyone is fortified for an afternoon of play. It’s such a genius idea — an elevated ready-made picnic to go, you simply choose the location.

A few further details (plus, tips!):

  • VHH Foods is open daily, from 7am-10pm.
  • High chairs are not yet available but you may be able to pull a stroller right up to your table if there’s room.
  • Orders for meals eaten at the restaurant are taken at the tables during the dinner hours; at all other times, both for meals to stay and to go, they’re taken at the counter inside.
  • Make sure to visit the public open space on the building’s roof for great views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and Lower Manhattan – simply take the stairs along one side of the atrium or use the elevator just beyond VHH Foods.
  • VHH Foods is the follow-up to the same owners’ first place, the much-loved Brooklyn institution Vinegar Hill House in nearby Vinegar Hill. If you’re looking for more of a full restaurant experience, it’s a lovely place to enjoy dinner or brunch on the weekends. I love it equally in the warmer months, when the charming back garden is open, and on frigid winter nights, when it feels like the coziest spot in the city. It makes a great date spot, though we’ve taken our children during brunch hours.

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