Friday, January 6, 2017

Off the Beaten track: Freek's Mill, Gowanus

BBQ kohlrabi over grits
Not long ago, the only reason to go to Gowanus was to strip a car. In fact, when my car was stolen years ago, someone tracked me down and told me where it was - in the Gowanus neighborhood, which at that time was mostly a wasteland between Park Slope and Cobble Hill (Boerum Hill hadn't been 'invented' yet either).

Times change, and the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, Ample Hills Creamery and Whole Foods have brought attention to this formerly desolate, industrial part of Brooklyn.

Another bright spot is Freek's Mill, around the corner from Ample Hills, but isolated enough that I felt like the late great Madeline Kahn in What's Up Doc, sent to a dilapidated building. But Freek's Mill, named for a mill that was built in the 1700s, is warm and inviting inside, with soft lights, exposed brick walls and candles.

High table in the front of Freek's Mill
The menu, of small plates, changes almost daily; some items stay, or are tweaked, but seasonal produce rules the day. Our waitress recommended 2-3 plates per person; with 5 plates split between 2 people, we were stuffed.

There was kale salad, of course, with Beecher's cheese, but we had had a lot of kale for lunch, so we skipped it. We were able to find more than enough vegetarian choices, though the Brussels sprouts sadly had bacon.

Roasted cauliflower with ricotta
Our favorite dishes were the roasted carrots with thick yogurt and crushed peanuts, and roasted cauliflower with ricotta. Both dishes were served cool and would have been better fresh from the fire. Then there was the BBQ kohlrabi, over decadently rich grits. I could have eaten a bucket of this.

Oysters roasted in the wood fire were also tasty but not hot, and it was a bit off putting that for a place where dishes are meant to be shared, the plate had 3 oysters. How many people go out to dinner in groups of 3? Every table was ether a pair or a foursome, so suggesting we pay for an extra oyster (which we did) seems like a bit of up-selling. Dishes range from $11-$23, but it gets pretty pricey if you eat 3 a person.

Carrots with yogurt and peanuts
The most expensive dish, scallops, was quite lovely, served with baby Brussels sprouts, (again, there were only 3) but it too was cool. And it came just minutes after we'd gotten 2 other dishes, so the pacing was a bit off. Maybe the staff needs more training; when Freek's Mill first opened, it had a no tipping policy, with the extra price built in. That model has changed, but it seems the high prices have remained. We asked our waitress to keep the scallops warm while we ate the other dishes, but she refused.  She also poured some wine on my husband but didn't seem to notice.

Scallops with baby Brussels
Cocktails are fantastic. We had the film noir, a take on a Manhattan with rye and homemade brandied cherries.  A bourbon drink with cranberry was every so slightly sweet but lovely. They were served up and properly icy cold.

No comments:

Post a Comment