Several restaurants across New York — from the Adirondacks to the Thousand Islands to Brooklyn — have folded the State's grist mill history into their names and menus, and turned “the grind” into quite the opposite: a delicious respite from the day-to-day.
289 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. 718.499.2424. Closed Tuesdays.
Gristmill's Fennel Pizza, made using New York-sourced bacon and dandelion greens. | Photo: Instagram.
Open since August 2016, Gristmill in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood is the newest of this ilk. Its dinner-only menu changes seasonally, but always incorporates whole and milled grains, and the wood-fired pizza and dessert pies are the stars of the show. The restaurant takes their grist seriously, and says that “because dough is such an integral component to the menu, cooks have their own personal starter to feed and take care of. Like a family of children, they all have names, however the ‘mother’ starter that they use for all of the doughs on the menu is Daisy.”
All ingredients are locally sourced and sustainably grown to an impressive degree: meat comes from Pine Plains’ Josef Meiller Farm and Ithaca’s The Piggery; dairy is supplied by Pine Plains’ Ronnybrook; and produce is harvested from Kingston’s Big Little Farm, Red Hook’s Yellow Bell Farm, Milton’s Locust Grove Fruit Farm, Tivoli’s Migliorelli and Heermance Farms, and Athens’ Rexcroft Farm.
285 Nevins Street, Brooklyn, NY. 718-852-3000. Open daily.
Bread pudding with whipped creme fraiche at Brooklyn's Freek's Mill. | Photo: Freek's Mill's Instagram.
Another recent Brooklyn addition is Freek’s Mill, on the site of an 18th-century grist mill that was powered by the nearby Gowanus Creek, known today as the Gowanus Canal. The restaurant owners pay tribute to this industrial past with the philosophy that, “The name Freek's Mill references a time when people in the area not only knew where their food came from, but also where it was processed.”
The menu earned the restaurant two stars from the New York Times. Dinner dishes include crostini, corn custard, and pasta, but the most indulgent grains are found at brunch — Dutch pancakes, biscuits and gravy, grits, and scrapple —and on the dessert list — rhubarb bread pudding, clafouti, and a beer float using ale from the Brooklyn Brewery.
The Grist Mill Restaurant (Warrensburg)
100 River Street, Warrensburg, NY. 518-623-8005. Open Thursday-Sunday from October to April, and Wednesday-Sunday from May to September.
Warrensburg's The Grist Mill Restaurant on Schroon River. | Photo: GristmillNY.com.
In the Adirondacks town of Warrensburg, The Grist Mill Restaurant offers contemporary American cuisine. The historic landmark building was first constructed in 1824 as a grist mill on the Schroon River, and reconfigured into a restaurant in 1976. The site retains its industrial structure and many original features and artifacts, including an authentic Colonial fireplace. The wheels of The Grist Mill, which supplied the water power to the mill, date back to 1806 and are considered the oldest metal wheels in existence.
The Grist Mill Restaurant, under new ownership since August 2015, incorporates local produce and ingredients into its menus, right down to the beverages. Don’t miss the house cocktails — the Mill Mash and the Schroon Mule (made using Saranac Brewery ginger beer) — and local beers from the Ithaca Beer Co. and Battle Hill Brewing Company.
The Grist Mill Restaurant (Parish)
3039 County Route 26, Parish, NY. 315-625-7691. Open 24 hours daily.
The Mill Philly served on a hoagie at The Grist Mill Restaurant in Parish. | Photo: Facebook.
The Grist Mill Restaurant in Parish, NY offers an entirely different experience as a family-style diner open 24/7. It’s the ideal spot for hungry drivers traveling along I-87 in the Thousand Islands-Seaway region, and for families enjoying the area’s many outdoor adventures (the restaurant is off the Snowmobile Trail).
The extensive menu boasts all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner. Specialties include the comforting goodness of Mill Melts, the Mill Burger (served on a kaiser roll with Russian dressing), and the Mill Philly (served on a hoagie, Upstate New York’s bread of choice).
Lead Image: Cavatelli pasta in the making at Brooklyn's Gristmill. | Photo: Gristmill's Instagram.