“Gowanus- it’s so romantic,” says pretty much no one ever. Until now. There’s something about Freek’s Mill in Gowanus that will make you feel differently. It worked on Pete Wells.
His experience at the restaurant, which opened in April, was “unusually good.” The restaurant gets its name from “a pre-Revolutionary War gristmill powered by a race that emptied into the Gowanus, when it was still a creek.” Certain elements of the restaurant call to mind the history, but Wells notes that “this type of marketing should not be taken too seriously.”
Of the food, he says, “I never met any bad dishes at Freek’s Mill, and only a few I wouldn’t try again.” The striped bass becomes “more interesting” with each bite. Veal Oscar doesn’t contain veal at all. Instead it’s made up of asparagus, topped with crab meat, hollandaise, and Old Bay seasoning. Unlike most fried soft-shell crabs, the version at Freek’s Mill has “a very crunchy, thickish batter that you sometimes see on the fish half of fish and chips.”
The fact that it’s a small plates restaurant serves to “complicate” things. Often, small plates aren’t a great value, and dishes seem even less so because Freek’s Mill is a no-tipping restaurant, and gratuity is therefore built into the price of dishes. Wells says that this can be hard to wrap your head around with certain dishes, particularly a scallop dish that cost $25 for three, and a $20 short leg of Octopus.
Dessert wasn’t all good. Stick with the “strawberry clafoutis drowned under fresh cream that bubbles when it hits the iron baking dish.” Servers were friendly and the wine list was interesting. Though it seemingly only contains two types of grapes, Wells was pleasantly surprised to realize each of the grapes’ range, and described most of them as being “flexible,” which is good when you want to eat a lot of the menu.
Overall? Two stars.
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