Between Rivington and Chrystie, there is an innocuous corridor running amidst typical east village walk ups. Take four strides too many and one would miss the alley entirely; venture down the path however, and prepare for a truly satisfying and well rounded dining experience.
Freemans Restaurant endeavors to serve rustic cuisine in a colonial tavern turned hip Bowery hotspot. The restaurant largely succeeds in its pursuit. With exquisitely seasoned American staples and a beautiful decor, the only real downside to the Freemans experience is that too many people are aware of its existence.
Without a reservation, the food bloggers were twice denied a table. Thus, when our dear friend Lindsey was about to embark on her 25th year, the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone presented itself. We would celebrate her birthday and get a reservation at Freemans (they only accept reservations for parties of 6 or more). We called many weeks in advance and they were able to accommodate our party for July 3rd at 9pm.
When we arrived the joint was packed. We waited outside in the sweltering summer air for about twenty minutes and then we were ushered inside to our table. The AC cooled our skin and the beautiful people were easy on the eyes. The front bar's antique fixtures and dim lighting were juxtaposed with top shelf liquor and hipsters in fedoras. The tables in the front were way too close together for my taste which is why being led to the backroom so delighted me. We were led through the kitchen, past the waiters' lockers into what had to have been the best table in the house. A lone oak table sat in the middle of the private room. Beautiful plants adorned antique bookcases and kitchen shelves stocked with wine and liquor. After seating, our group really felt like we were being treated to a special evening in someone's colonial home.
The service was great, and the restaurant even accommodated a seventh and unexpected party guest. The waiter recommended some specialty cocktails and our evening began.
I had a Gatsby something-or-other and my friends got the Freemans Cocktail and the Grass Roots Sour. Although the list of ingredients was certainly impressive and exotic, for $12.00, the cocktails did not impress me that much. My Gatsby tasted like a gin and tonic flavored with ginger ale and I found myself wishing I just ordered a dirty martini like the b-day girl did.
The meal began with what I can only describe as two of the best appetizers I have ever had in my entire life. The healthy sized portion of mussels were so delicious that our entire group devoured them within a minute and we had to get more bread just to soak up the remaining juices. Next came the spinach artichoke dip served with mini toast. I am not usually a big fan of that dish as I find it is often too creamy for my liking. However, this dip was perfection. It was not creamy in the slightest and was seasoned with what I believe was wine, garlic and some spicy jazz. It was incredible and unlike any spinach artichoke dip you have ever had, I guarantee it.
MusselsThe entrees we ordered were the filet mignon, the trout, the chicken and the scallops. My chicken was jazzed up with a bbq sauce that had a great kick to it but it was not overwhelming. The brook trout was cooked to perfection and seasoned delicately. The dishes were on the smaller side. The chicken came with mustard potato salad and we ordered a side of spinach. I felt that the sides were uninspired, but the meat was so good that it was hard to notice.
Desserts were frankly very plain and probably overpriced, but the bananas foster with rum butterscotch was the highlight and we were glad we listened to the waiter's recommendation. The meal closed with cappuccinos and an iced coffee (which to my surprise is not something you are supposed to order at restaurants- feel free to comment on this issue below).
All in all, a lovely and memorable evening with great people and great food.