Freek's Mill isn't the kind of restaurant you stumble across on a Friday evening. While an evening stroll through Gowanus may not have been top of my parents to-do list on their most recent visit, eating at Freek's Mill with them was top of mine.
Pass the disused cars, parking lots, and empty warehouses, and you'll find a glowing haven, with a beautiful logo painted on the side, sitting on the corner of this cobbled Brooklyn road. Inside, tables line the walls, a counter wraps round the front windows, a bar glimmers, and the sounds of an open kitchen travel through from the next room.
This restaurant isn't for the selfish. The menu of sharing plates has to be split amongst you all: the rich, deep flavors of each dish make a few mouthfuls of each perfect, but eating the entire serving of it alone would be a challenge. An umami-party like this one requires good friends, plenty of funky wine, and a couple of hours to really take in the wide range of dishes presented to you.
Tuscan kale with honey crisp apples, Marcona almonds, and Beechers cheddar. Yet another competitor for top kale salad. How are there quite so many spectacular kale salads in this city? It's amazing.
Charred radicchio with straciatella and candied walnuts. Sweet enough to absorb the leaves' bitter flavor, with the creamy fresh cheese bringing rich comfort.
Montauk scallop crudo with pickled persimmon, cilantro, and crème fraîche. Refreshing, zingy, sweet, creamy: balancing magic.
Roasted beets with chickpeas, speck, and soft boiled egg. The prettiest comfort food.
Octopus with peewee potatoes and chorizo vinaigrette. No chewiness on this giant octopus tentacle. Smoky potatoes and paprika-heavy vinaigrette bought a hint of Spain to the table. And alongside that we devoured Brussels sprouts with apple-maple butter and bacon. All sprouts should be eaten like this forever and ever.
Pappardelle with rabbit ragu, guanciale, and wild nettles felt a little strange sitting amongst the other heavily flavored dishes, but in itself was an example of perfect pasta. If you needed proof that the Freek's Mill team can cook, this is is.
We were warned when we ordered roasted pork jowl with smashed cucumbers, cashews, and cilantro, that the joy of this dish was in the fat. This fatty meat was tender, and, drenched in Szechuan-inspired flavors, it was beautifully more-ish. But yes, the joy was in the fat.
We found dessert round the corner at Ample Hills (because you can't be that close to ice cream heaven and not visit). The perfect food-filled Friday night. In Gowanus. Sometimes Brooklyn really does seem magical.
Freek's Mill, 285 Nevins Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217.