It must be good to be a firewood dealer in New York City these days.
Not because the impending apocalypse has people stocking up on readily available energy resources, and not because Gwyneth Paltrow just said that having a pot belly stove in your apartment will make your skin clearer (she didn’t).
The wood business is booming because all the new restaurants these days seem insistent on cooking with it.
And we’re not complaining. A common thread amongst many of our all time favorite restaurants is the fact that they make food in a wood burning oven, from Lilia to Pasquale Jones to Speedy Romeo. Food just seems to taste better when cooked at very high temperatures in a dome shaped apparatus, and as far as we’re concerned, the more time we can spend in places that smell like a smoky Vermont cabin, the better. So now you know. If you want to get Infatuation excited about your restaurant, just open a spot modeled after an 18th century New England kitchen.
That’s why we were so excited to check out Freeks Mill, a restaurant in Gowanus that’s in the market for some wood. They have a small open kitchen in the back of their very aesthetically pleasing new restaurant, and in the back of that kitchen is a dome full of fire. And from that dome of fire comes some pretty delicious food.
Freek’s Mill is apparently inspired by the days when Gowanus was farm land, when the Canal was actually a creek and assumingly far less full of poison. What that means is locally sourced food gets cooked over flames, and the vibe is rustic but modern. Think of it as a mix between Vinegar Hill House and The Pines. We like both of those places a lot. And we like Freek’s Mill too.
But we also want to like Freek’s Mill a whole lot more than we currently do. Many of the things you’ll eat at this restaurant are absolutely excellent. The carrots, the pastas, the wood-fired oysters, the dry aged duck - they’re all very good. But there are also some times when things seem a bit too fussy - like the fried chicken livers on the dandelion salad, or the fact that the wine list is almost entirely made up of Chenin Blanc and Beaujolais. We assume there’s a reason for that, but we don’t really know what it is. People want options. And a lot of people don’t want Beaujolais.
Either way, Freek’s Mill is a solid addition to this part of Brooklyn, and we suspect that it’s the kind of place that will only get better over time. For Gowanus and the surrounding neighborhoods, it’s a very good option for your next date night or laid back evening out with some friends. Especially if you feel the same way that we do about fire wood. And even more so if you disagree about Beaujolais.
Carrots, caramelized from their time in that wood burning oven and topped with some yogurt and peanuts. Order them.
Another tasty thing from the fire dome, perfectly cooked and ready to be shared.
We love the pastas at Freek’s Mill, and this agnolotti with lobster is our current favorite. If it’s on the menu, you want it.
Asparagus, topped with crab and hollandaise. Like brunch and dinner combined.
This duck is meaty and delicious thanks to the combination of time and fire.
Another excellent pasta option. This one comes with a rabbit ragu, which tastes like most other ragus, except cuter. Get it.
Exactly what you think it is. And exactly what you want it to be. Just know that the mint in the ice cream is real mint, the plant. Not that factory mint chemical that you’ve come to know and love. If you like that, you love this.