FROM THOSE HUNGRY GOURMETS….JIMMY AND GUY STILLWELL
The big mirror behind the bar declares…” Eat Well….Drink Well” and well, that’s what we came here for…well, that and the Wallis Boys…who make music and entertain the folks. Our foray to the Grist Mill on a Friday evening was a pleasant experience and we recommend it for all.
Back when it was the Island Inn we ventured forth and nearly got the hell beat out of us. Since then, Mike Andrews and Erik Lidums, took on the old gal and renovated the entire joint, save the beer box directly under the big mirror.
Rustic early American décor lends the visitor a chance to feel comfy, not crowded with a fine dining room, elegant bar and good service. Best of all is the chef, Mike, who puts forth some mighty fancy and delicious entrees.
Tonight I had the seared medallions of pork tenderloin, drizzled with whole grain mustard sauce, served with sautéed baby bok choy and champagne cheddar whipped potatoes….yep…never thought I’d chow down on this kind of fare…especially at the Island Inn…but I digress…it’s the Grist Mill and times have changed.
For an appetizer we both enjoyed the soups…Guy had the oyster stew which he lapped up like a spaniel in heat…me, well I savored the baked potato soup with green onion, bacon and cheddar…and it blew me away. The soups alone are enough to merit a visit to the Mill….and best of all; they are all home-made by Mike’s mom, Wanda Andrews. Take a moment and think about that…no disrespect to other eateries, but for a class establishment like this having Mom in the kitchen is a plus.
Guy had a taste for the seafood tonight and settled in for the Oysters carpaccio on the half shell topped with tangy onion relish, shredded parmesan, and balsamic reduction. Dinner was savored, conversation pleasant, and we were living well.
Wafting through the dining area the tunes of the Wallis Boys eased the crowd into a gentle kind of atmosphere suited for a genteel Friday evening out to dine. The Grist Mill and the Wallis Boys complement each other and I see nothing but good in that. Young children would venture over to where the boys were playing to get a look and there were smiles all around. Families in the dining room with well-behaved children means a lot to adults dining out once in a while, with the times being hard and all.
Younger folk at the spacious bar, closer to the music and a handy barkeep name of Bob…Bob sold cars for 15 years, and got his pink slip recently so he went back to days of tending bar. He actually helped open the Grist Mill after extensive renovations and was on hand to serve the libations.
The Wallis Boys welcome anyone who would like to step up to the mike and sing…and sure enough this lady comes up and sings a rather good version of “Angel From Montgomery” to the delight of everyone, especially her husband sitting 8 stools down. The Boys are definitely ‘user friendly’.
Follows a ‘special request’ for the band for a gray bearded gent sitting by himself in the dining room…”Pancho and Lefty”…the whole place is enveloped with fine vittles and melodies.
Enthusiastic applause keeps the sound level happy and vibrant.
We came for the food, and got a bargain in quality and price. Dwight James, the maitre de of the place tended our every need and of those guests coming in throughout the evening. After all, this was a ‘First Friday’ in Havre de Grace and yet the crowd here was better than we had expected.
Alert waitresses without attitude or diversions other than the clientele are rare in some eateries today, but here, they can’t do enough for us. Our waitress, Brooke, supplies extra napkins and kept our every need foremost in her mind.
My soup, baked potato soup…$4 per cup…$6 bowl
Seared Medallions of Pork, $16
Guy’s soup, Oyster stew…not sure of the price, but he wore a smile on the last sup.
Being the gourmets we are, bottled water with the meal, no dessert, and a chilly vodka and cranberry at the bar afterwards.
Oh, in the Men’s Room, behind the ‘throne’ was a copy of the Warren Commission Report” on the J.F.K. Assassination….Dwight later was advised and duly removed the book from the privy. I wondered who would have the time to read or even browse that tome of lies.
Mike, co-owner and chef, graduated from the Culinary School in Baltimore, and worked at Linwood’s and later at Woody’s in North East.
The Stillwell’s rate The Grist Mill as follows:
Price $$$ Food, Parking and Atmosphere 4 stars out of 5
We highly recommend a visit there…it’s just a half hour ride from Bel Air…and puts some of the places there to shame.