When Jean Adamson and Sam Buffa opened the consistently packed Vinegar Hill House in 2008, they helped revive a forgotten Navy Yard area of Brooklyn. Now fans of the duo’s blend of homey fare and quirky design aesthetic have another reason to trek to the remote (by NYC standards) neighborhood: the opening of Hillside café right next door.

“We really want to create something separate, they have a totally different vibe. But at the same time, you can enjoy both in one night,” says Adamson of their one-two restaurant punch. “They’re siblings.”


Inspired in part by Buffa’s Bay Area upbringing, the no reservations 30-seat Hillside blends a 1960s California vibe with European panache. The redwood tables come from trees milled by one of Buffa’s childhood West Coast neighbors, the bar is made up of vintage colored broomsticks and Buffa created mobile light fixtures out of drum circles. The menu, overseen by executive chef Brian Leth, is thoughtfully choreographed aswell: East Coast oysters, a petit plateau of seafood, roasted bone marrow and a lentil and foie gras pressé, all begging to be paired with, say, a glass of Muscadet or Left Hand Milk Stout (served in a special smaller 7oz vessel called a “Little Buddy”).

Hillside is currently open only for dinner, but in a few weeks, will start serving coffee, breakfast and a full lunch menu.

70 Hudson Avenue at Water Street

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Photo: Ingalls Photography