Without a great deal of public fanfare, the Erenzo family of Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner has taken over operations of the restaurant adjacent to their distillery. Housed in a rustically atmospheric gristmill that dates to 1788, Tuthill House at the Mill opened in 2010 under the stewardship of longtime restaurateurs, Toby and Joe Gabriello, who had purchased the historic mill from Ralph Erenzo not long after he purchased the entire Tuthilltown property in 2002. Now, according to Erenzo, plans are in progress for the Gabriellos to sell the mill back to him, with the vision being to create a unified destination at the site where people can visit for the entire Tuthilltown Spirits experience: distillery tour, shop, tastings and the restaurant.
During the transition in management of the restaurant over the summer, the menu was kept the same as it had been under the Gabriellos, and repeat diners may not have even noticed any changes. But now the changeover is complete, and Tuthill House at the Mill’s new executive chef Jared Krom is offering a menu of American cuisine focusing on prime steaks, grass-fed beef, seafood and pasta made with local artisan products and locally sourced ingredients.
The newly revamped restaurant is open Thursday through Sunday for lunch and dinner with the same menu for both. According to general manager Audra Norris, the idea in that is to offer customers the flexibility of being able to stop by at any hour for whatever they’re in the mood for, whether that be something on the lighter side — like a black bean burger topped with avocado and chipotle mayo, $13 — or an entrée, perhaps pan-seared duck breast with a fig-balsamic glaze, served with sautéed kale and roasted fingerling potatoes ($23).
The connection with the distillery means that menu items will be augmented by classic and innovative cocktails made with its products, created by new head barman, Darren Joseph. His experience working behind the bar of many top restaurants in New York City shows in his approach to cocktails as part taste sensation, part art form.
The opportunity to try a range of Joseph’s concoctions paired with a succession of chef specialties from Jared Krom was the highlight of a recent event held in the upstairs events space at Tuthill House at the Mill last Thursday, October 30. “Booze and Books: A Spirited and Educational Series” was the second installment of a succession of meet-the-author events planned for the restaurant where the “curriculum” involves sipping and eating one’s way through an author’s work as they read selections from it, followed by a digestif and book signing in the distillery’s tasting room.
“Booze and Books” lived up to its billing, with four courses of food and spirits paired especially to complement the reading and talk by Cold Spring-based author Max Watman, who read between each course from his recent memoir, Harvest: Field Notes from a Far-Flung Pursuit of Real Food, and his earlier book about moonshine, Chasing the White Dog.
Before “class” even began, guests were offered the first of Joseph’s spirited creations, a cocktail punch made with ginger beer, spiced rum, maple syrup, and pumpkin vodka (the distillery’s wheat vodka infused with fresh pumpkin). That was followed by a sparkling white cosmo made with the distillery’s wheat vodka, Cointreau, cava, white cranberry juice and lime juice, paired with the first course, a fall harvest salad of baby arugula, goat cheese, raw root vegetables and pickled red onions with creamy caraway dressing.
As the evening proceeded, Watman offered dryly humorous gustatory musings and observations from his life as an ardent locavore, concluding at one point that making sense of all the issues of sustainability and what we eat all comes down to being an active participant in the process. “You have to pay attention to what you’re doing and improve your life as you go,” he said. “And realizing that kind of helped me get better, at cooking and at eating, and at looking at things, even if it was only one thing. A person who learns really well how to bake bread maybe understands more than just baking bread. Because if you become really good at looking at one thing, you become really good at looking in general.”
Further courses included a cacao liqueur-braised pork belly with spiced sweet potato puree accompanied by the distillery’s Hudson single malt whiskey and cacao liqueur blended with maple and apple syrups and topped with fresh sage, a duck confit with Yukon Gold potatoes and house-fermented sauerkraut served with a brisk whiskey and beer combination and finally, a fried apple hand pie with a classic Jack Rose cocktail of hardscrabble applejack, lemon juice and fresh house-made pomegranate syrup.
Tuthill House at the Mill is located at 20 Gristmill Lane in Gardiner. For reservations, call (845) 255-4151. For more information, visit www.tuthilltown.com.