Old Mill Inn
5775 W. Mill Rd. Mattituck, NY 631-298-8080
There might be no lovelier dining spot on the North Fork than the deck of this former grist mill. Built in 1820, it has served as an eating-and-drinking establishment since 1902. Watch fishing trawlers and sailing boats returning from Long Island Sound to moor for the night. The menu ranges from Old American to New American to Mediterranean.Hours:
Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday and Monday, noon to 8:45 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon to 9:45 p.m.Reservations:
There might be no lovelier dining spot on the North Fork than the deck of this former grist mill. Built in 1820, it has served as an eating-and-drinking establishment since 1902. Last year, new owners (including Fox News' Greta Van Susteren) took over the premises.
The wooden floor, supported by piers plunged into the eastern edge of Mattituck Inlet, sways ever so gently in the water's current. At dinner time, fishing trawlers and sailing boats return from their work, or play, in Long Island Sound, and moor for the night.
The tranquil setting primed us for simple, fish-centric cooking at this place, and it was there somewhere, beneath too many complicated garnishes and sauces. If the kitchen had left the mostly excellent ingredients alone, the meal would have been hard to improve upon.
A salad of local heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella was overwhelmed by a sweet balsamic reduction. I could barely discern the local clams from beneath their baked stuffing, and the sweet crabmeat in a nice-sized crab cake was shouted down by too many herbs, spices and bread crumbs; the garnish of goat-milk yogurt, cucumber and dill didn't help matters. Yet a heaping plate of fried calamari was given no artistic fillip, and was terrific.
I ordered an unimpeachable slab of hopping-fresh local striped bass, but it gained nothing from its muddy surrounding ragout of over-the-hill fava beans and tomatoes. Pan-seared Scottish salmon with baby artichokes was marred only by that sweet balsamic reduction. Why, I wondered, doesn't the chef trust his ingredients more?
Long Island duck was the only real dud, overcooked and dry, served with undercooked leeks and a sweet blackberry sauce that would have worked better over ice cream. But the roast chicken was just about perfect.
Among the desserts, the fruit crisp with almond-oatmeal topping was a winner, as was the chocolate-Grand Marnier pot de crÃ¨me. I blame myself for the mango tarte tatin. Ninety minutes into our meal, I had no reason to believe that this would be any improvement on the classic apple pastry, and it wasn't.
When the waitress took our dessert and coffee orders, she apologized in advance that the restaurant had no espresso machine and could offer us only American coffee. This struck me as emblematic of The Old Mill Inn's failure to see itself for what it easily could be: a really good country-style American restaurant. --Erica Marcus (8/24/07)
If you want to dock and dine, there are two slips and no dockage fee on the West side of the Mattituck Inlet (a deepwater channel that can accommodate a 6-foot draft). Call ahead.