In the hours before opening for dinner service, the bar at Park Slope newcomer Gristmill is littered with herbs and edible flowers—a recent delivery from owner Jake Novick-Finder’s mother, via her farm in the Hudson Valley. Also called Gristmill, it’s not just inspiration for her son’s legitimately local-seasonal eatery, but one of its regular suppliers as well, along with a collective of over 30 small-scale purveyors positioned within the Northeast.
“Farm-to-table has become such a meaningless buzzword. People buy Jersey tomatoes twice a year and claim they’re a farm-to-table restaurant,” Novick-Finder said. “We’ve literally made it our business, on the other hand, to work solely with fresh, local ingredients, and cook exclusively within those limitations.”
So while yes, Gristmill currently imports oil, salt and vinegar at the moment (they’re actually in the process of house-fermenting the latter right now), almost every component of their current menu can be traced to a nearby farm. It takes a literal village to build a beet salad, for instance, boasting both roots and greens (the restaurant also aims to be largely waste-free), and a plate of wood-fired pork shoulder proves a true team effort, comprised of meat from The Piggery, Ronnybrook yogurt, Little Big Farm cabbage and pickled cucumbers, culled from sous chef Craig Hutchinson’s very own backyard.
As their name suggests, Gristmill places an appreciable focus on grains as well, procuring a dozen different types of flours, all milled to order within the month. In addition to offering squares of cornbread folded with polenta, crab, borage, dill and purslane, as well as panzanella plush with squid and pea greens and tubes of warthog winter wheat garganelli, tossed with porcini and kale, a 700-degree oven is tasked with turning out a lineup of Neapolitan-meets-NY pizzas (flavorful yet crisp) such as stracciatella with peas and umeboshi flowers, and bacon, dandelion, blue cheese and fennel—each birthed from a sourdough starter named Daisy.
“We use no instant yeast in our doughs; it’s all Daisy,” Novick-Finder said. “And by scrupulously sourcing even commodity items like flour, we’re confirming that we really care where all of our products come from—not just our sauces and cheese, but our bases and breads as well.”
289 5th Ave., Park Slope (718) 499-2424
Photos by Jane Bruce