It happens in New York all the time. Just when you find a restaurant you really like, without any explanation, it closes. That’s what happened with Vandaag. One morning, more than a month ago, my friend Chaniya and I stumbled into Vandaag for brunch. We had had plans to eat elsewhere nearby, but after seeing the restaurant empty, we thought Vandaag would be a better bet. And it was, brunch was fantastic.
We started off with Bitterballen ($10; pictured above), fried slow-braised oxtail and gouda bechamel croquettes topped with mustard relish. It was fried, but beautifully fried, it didn’t taste oily. It was filled with shredded oxtail and creamy cheese, but cut with the mustard, it didn’t feel heavy. It was completely tasty for brunch, but I could imagine the crisp, golden orbs being even better with cocktails at the bar. I made a mental note to return.
Lamb Neck Hash ($15) with crunchy fried potatoes cradling two delicate poached eggs was also delicious, albeit a tad greasy.
And the savory Pannekoek ($15), a thin pancake, crisp at the edges, topped with speck, kaas (cheese), juniper, and red currant syrup, although a compromise — Chaniya had wanted something savory not sweet, while I had insisted on pancakes — appeased and satisfied both of our desires.
Drinks were great as well. Vandaag’s Bloody Mary with lots of pickled onions and fennel pollen salt was beyond good.
So it was a bit of a surprise when I returned a few weeks later with David in tow only to be met with a dark, shuttered restaurant.
Did @VandaagNYC close? Passed by yesterday evening & it was closed. Had dinner at Heart of India instead. Greasy & salty, but still good.
— Tia Kim (@bionicbites) May 26, 2012
Perplexed I put out a desperate tweet, but no one seemed to know. And then a few days later, Eater confirmed the restaurant had closed.
So why am I even writing about Vandaag? How does this help you? Well, sometimes I need to rant, and if you’re interested, the same team behind Vandaag, minus the original chef, has opened Woodland in Park Slope. The menu is American, not Scandinavian, but it looks interesting (crayfish or venison tartare, anyone?). As for Bitterballen, they are nowhere to be seen, which makes me, yes, (sorry for the pun) bitter. Especially when that restaurant Chaniya and I had decided against for Vandaag is incomprehensibly still in business.