Grist Mill country-style staples off the grill
By Christopher Malone
Full disclosure — I was headed to a different location to accomplish this edition’s restaurant review.
Perhaps the appeal of a road trip on a mild, clear-skied Saturday evening with spring-like temperatures and then seeing the lone restaurant off I-81 North, exit 33 for Parish really helps bring out the spontaneity in a guy.
For a traveler, the glow of gas prices and the country store aesthetic of The Grist Mill Restaurant, 3039 county Route 26 in Parish, is a beacon for the weary and for the hungry.
Although today’s easily accessible technology can show this eatery is open 24/7, clear signage explains faster than fingertips can type.
The Grist Mill Restaurant is the epitome of a rest stop with gas pumps, faux stone wallpaper, dingy bathrooms, a seasonal ice cream stand and various grab-and-go snacks.
It’s a large restaurant and there are two unique U-shaped sections to the bar, where I sat. As noted, it’s conveniently found right off a highway while embarking on that road trip.
The staff will treat you as if you are part of their family.
The menu boasts all-American comfort fare and breakfast staples served any time. It was difficult to make the decision to try breakfast or the lunch-dinner fare.
Since this was a solo mission, my review came in two parts because of congenital indecisiveness.
The Ol’ Smokey burger caught my eye ($9.29) — onions, spicy barbecuesauce, two burgers. Yup, two patties of meat. Unfortunately, there were hits and misses to the choice. The barbecue sauce, although not entirely spicy, was a great condiment with onions. Both sides of the roll were toasted well. The dill pickle slice was crisp, not soggy. I was asked how I wanted my burger cooked, so there was initial faith in the beef.
The issues were unapologetic and didn’t hide themselves. Despite enjoying straight shooters, the lack of chips had me scratching my head. A complaint or concern was never made about this since I had plenty of food in front of me. There was a void, however, without that critical complement. The burger was cooked just about well-done instead of medium, but it wasn’t dry by any means.
To go with the burger, I placed an order of hot wings. Wings can be ordered in increments of five, 10, or 20. The handful order ($5.99) was best for one person, and the best part of dinner. The large, meaty wings were slathered in a medium-thick, red-orange hot sauce. By the end of the meal, light perspiration speckled my brow — major kudos. The celery strips were dunked in the remaining sauce.
The third option was the chili-spud ($4.29). Listed as a “baked potato treat,” it lived up to it. The potato was baked really well — trust me, I have had a bad spud before. The ground beef and kidney bean chili could have offered more flavor, but the pile of shredded onion atop compensated.
For hearty amount of food, dinner came to $21.14 before tip.
The next morning, I returned for more. With this other solo excursion, brunch was on the mind. Cue up the coffee ($2.29 with free refills), eggs with home fries ($5.59), and a short stack of pancakes with bacon ($5.29).
As much of a locally roasted connoisseur as I am, nothing beats a hot cup of diner coffee in a ceramic mug. It’s a simple aspect of life and a beautiful inanimate relationship beyond words. The Grist Mill’s did not falter.
The golden-colored pancakes had a light crisp around the edge. They were medium-large. The butter was placed in a small paper cup, which was face-down on the top cake. This allowed for easily spread butter and avoided the mess of rogue butter puddles. Unfortunately, I do have to rib about the Aunt Jemima syrup instead of the real stuff.
The bacon was not too crispy, not too flimsy, but just right. Shaking a little pepper on them made the strips taste great.
I ordered the two eggs over easy, which came out as perfect. The white bread toast came with lightly spread butter. The home fries, a plentiful pile, didn’t have a lot of salt and no pepper. However, this is great for patrons to season their home fries to their liking. Per request, you can just order them as is or ask for them on the crispier side. The Grist Mill is accommodating.
The overly filling brunch came to $14.76 before tip.
The Grist Mill Restaurant has something for every traveler of any age, whether they come by car, snowmobile, hiking or hitchhiking.
Sometimes spontaneous stops are rewarding in their own right. I’m definitely not displeased with this decision.
Grist Mill Restaurant
3039 County Rte. 26, Parish, NY 13131