Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

Sometimes I worry that this blog gets repetitive. Sure, I write about pizza, dumplings, and bagels over and over again. That’s the point. But I’m talking more about the Dish of the Week each Thursday. And maybe it says more about the food scene in NYC. How many more ramen noodles or smoked fish dishes can I write about?

But I can guarantee (without even doing an official search through the archives) this is the very first time I’ll be writing about a dish where the star of the show is kohlrabi.

Most people don’t even know what kohlrabi is – let alone how to pronounce it. The bulbous cabbage is not quite up to kale or brussels sprouts status in the hipster veggie scene (there probably really is such a thing) but it did make a rare cameo in my Empire Plates of Mine video. Blink and you’ll miss it.

It has also become one of the more popular dishes at Freek’s Mill, a very surprising restaurant that has changed the face of the Gowanus neighborhood. Among these old warehouses and industrial spaces, some of the most exciting food an drink preparation is happening. Freek’s Mill is on a whole other level.

Freek’s Mill sits on a dark desolate corner but inside it is warm, cozy, and a bit refined. You’d never guess you were in Gowanus. I grabbed a seat at the chef’s table and ordered two small dishes. They turned out to be more filling than I had expected and left me wanting to come back for more.

The brussels sprouts salad was pretty straight forward but had nice crunch and a pleasant bite from a showering of parmesan.

With the BBQ kohlrabi, I really had no idea what to expect. It came out on a bed of grits with a garnish of pickled mustard greens. Is this a vegetarian take on pork belly? It sure looks like it.

Maybe that was the inspiration but this was really its own thing. The kohlrabi is blackened and smoked. The vegetable has a sweet nuttiness reminiscent of a sunchoke and pairs nicely with the buttery grits.

Funny, the day before I tasted this I had returned from Savannah where I literally ate grits every day. While the flavor and texture is closer to polenta here, these are one of the better versions I’ve tried in the city.

But that kohlrabi. It’s texture was juicy and crisp and the flavor was undeniably meaty and smoky – even though there was no meat on the plate. It’s exciting to taste and write about a new ingredient. Now let’s hope some Brooklyn chef does something exciting with fiddlehead ferns. Price: $16

FREEK’S MILL
285 Nevins Street (at Sackett Street),
Gowanus, Brooklyn
(718) 852-3200
freeksmill.com
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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