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Thursday
Jun232011

The Mill at 2t

The rainy drive up to Tariffville set the stage. The welcoming little restaurant felt comforting as we dried off after our dash in from the car.  Candles lit on each of the large round wooden tables and the hush of relaxed conversation...this was the right place for us tonight. The hostess (who is also the waitress) welcomed us up toward the open kitchen while our table was reset. Sitting down, exposed brick and simple elegance reminded me of Middlebury Vermont and I caught a glimpse of the beer list...Otter Creek Copper Ale (my college beer)...does it get better than this? Well, yes in fact...it does!...

For appetizers: I had the soft-shell crab "sandwich" and Allie ordered the truffle and asparagus with a glass of 2009 Mauritson Sauvignon Blanc. Truth be told, with a soft-shell crab (preciously in season for only a few weeks this year), less is more. The chef nailed it on this one. Served "open face" on a piece of grilled brioche, the lightly battered crab lay on a thin bed of the tiniest baby arugula. Drizzled with siracha aioli and topped with a dollop of "sticky" tomatoes, each bite seemed just perfectly balanced. My wife's " truffle and asparagus" was simply elegant with sliced truffle chips and a bright but smooth zabaglione on the plate. A tease, you wished each piece of asparagus was better equipped to soak up the special flavors but then, sometimes it's okay to be left wanting more...and more!

For dinner we decided to share the "high" and the "low". The star of the menu (admittedly the most expensive and listed first) was the Wagyu hanger steak...at the "other end", the housemade gnocchi with fresh corn. If you can go to the Mill with someone you love, I can't recommend enough that you order two dishes that both look amazing and share them....in our case, the chef served the steak a true medium rare and if you've tried to grill hanger steak, you know that tender is the ultimate triumph. Ours was excellent and refreshingly impossible to achieve at home; the cannellini beans seemed infused with basil and spring flavors.

The gnocchi captured the true magic of this hideaway boutique restaurant. Gnocchi is a labor of love and though we never spoke to the chef, it felt as though a mom or grandma knew we were coming home and made our favorite comfort food to welcome us. Gnocchi is soft and tender; this dish with sweet corn off the cob made for a delightfully simple, yet brilliant and creative dish that captured the night perfectly: summer produce and light lemony flavors with the richness and familiar comfort of gnocchi.

With dinner my glass of the '06 Sinskey Pinot Noir reminded me of why America went so bonkers for Pinot after the book (and much better movie) Sideways.  Full fruit and near perfect balance with very little free alcohol...it paired brilliantly with the tender steak and offset the delicious but rich marbling of the beef. My wife ordered a repeat of her Sauvignon Blanc and like the gnocchi it captured the night just right: the tastes of summer (green apple and pear, Meyer lemon and even some clementine) but surefooted and richer than your typical minerally, bone dry summer white...the mouthfeel of a medium bodied Chardonnay and a particularly soft finish... An early summer rainy night presents a culinary challenge...but not too great for the talent at the Mill at 2t.

Almost stuffed, and somehow hungry for more, our server guided us chocolate lovers toward the pot de creme with pistachio biscotti. My wife ordered her guilty pleasure: moscato d'asti (a practice she's developed over the years when she goes out to dinner with her father and me because without it, we press her to taste our port or even worse a single malt scotch (in my wife's eyes a fate worse than death!)).

Click to visit!The server brought me a treat of dessert wine, on the house, to accompany our order of chocolate dessert: Vinedo de los Vientos "Alcyone"...after a sip or two we are deep into a discussion with her about this fascinating dessert wine...despite some friendly debate, I'm sticking to my guns on this one: dried cherry, black currant and mint in the nose with strong carob and dark chocolate...a soft but lasting and memorable finish.

When we had ordered the dessert Allie and our waitress lamented the local news of how the onslaught of recent rain may have ruined surrounding farms' strawberry picking for the weekend... As a result, we had had a rough time choosing the pot de creme over another option: the strawberry shortcake. When the strawberries arrived by mistake, we were surprised but delighted at the mix-up (at the end of the meal, our sweet but apologetic waitress explained: "I put in for BOTH desserts for you so that you could try the strawberries too on the house...but, the chef misunderstood...so here, take this pot de creme with my compliments and enjoy it tomorrow.") I told you it was going to get better...and better!

Perhaps it's a bit absurd to consider this bespoke, tiny, magical restaurant our go-to, but I can dream, can't I? The brilliant food may be expensive by local standards but I'd argue that the Mill at 2t is a terrific deal given the heirloom level of flavors where I will remember a uniquely special dinner and a perfect Thursday night. Now, if I can just return often enough to be a "regular".

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