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Gibbet Hill Grill is a converted farmhouse serving mostly steaks and farm-to-table salads and sides from an open kitchen. With high ceilings, fireplaces, rustic wood beams and stately wildlife and agricultural decor, it could easily pass for a century-old summer retreat for the Vanderbilts. A half upper level overlooks the ground floor bar area on one side and open dining area on the other. Large windows face rolling hills that are green in the spring and alive with more vivid colors in the autumn—the best season to visit. Walk past the parking lot and you'll find gardens, a greenhouse and numerous photoworthy scenes. A second barn to the right of the main building gets used almost every weekend for weddings and other events.
Gibbet Hill Farm Burger: Grass fed beef, pork belly confit, smoked gouda, roasted red pepper mayo.
Maximilian Burger: Black Angus, lettuce, tomato, red onion.
A powdery vessel stands tall and round, engulfing the patty with ease. A little imposing at first glance, the bun is even more imposing to the bite. Although fresh, it's both voluminous and dense, suffocating the beef flavor with bready, starchy obstacles above and below. The dome is toasted and buttered, but that butteriness is subliminal unless you're channeling your inner Princess and the Pea. Spoiler alert: this bun has ramifications.
Two burger options at Gibbet Hill Grill use different beef. For the Maximillian Burger, it's outsourced Angus; the signature Gibbet Hill Farm Burger takes its beef straight from the pasture behind the restaurant. Walk around the perimeter of the building and you might just catch a glimpse of next week's burger today.
The loose, sizeable (8-ounce) pub style patty is cooked over an open flame, as the flavor of char is a constant, even if slightly muffled by that bun. The exterior gets a nice crusting and the salt is applied very generously. The meat is reasonably moist and somewhat juicy, but doneness is interesting here. After five tries, I've concluded that it's best to order your burger temperature one level higher than what you really want. A burger ordered medium came out closer to the desired medium rare; a medium rare came out closer to rare. With the house burger there's a subtle, pleasant gaminess to the beef that you don't get from the large scale suppliers, but you might have to cut a piece off and taste it solo to truly experience it.
With both burgers you can add bacon, grilled onions and the like. All are good; none are eventful. With the Gibbet Hill Farm Burger, it's best to take it as it comes. The pork belly—easily the most anticipated topping—is a bit of a disappointment. The shape (one strip down the middle) doesn't ensure belly in every bite, so it's easy to get lost. The not-so-crisp bites that do come get a little lost too under all the bread. The aioli is administered with a heavy hand, making heavy use of your napkin hand. Caramelized onions, tried on a Maximilian burger, were nicely reduced and intensified to bring out the sweet. Cheese is light on flavor but gets a nice melt with good coverage. A garnish of at least a dozen thin sliced pickles brings a potent pickling spice flavor, whether for snacking or burger insertion.
The Fries (and Such)
Fries: Regular cut and shoestring have made appearances—the former have been somewhat limp, the latter have been crisp, both have been uninteresting and surprisingly frozen at a place with a farm-to-table pretense. According to the server, it's to handle the volume.
Onion Rings: They're the puffy kind rather than the flaky kind and they're the frozen kind rather than the fresh cut kind.
Side salad: For a $4 upgrade, you can swap out the fries for your choice of farm salad or Caesar salad; this is the way to go but be prepared for a very large plate. If you opt for anchovies on the Caesar, you get long, silvery fish the size of your finger.
Maple Glazed Carrots: These are interesting. Someday I'm going to order these atop a dish of ice cream, that's how sweet and syrupy they are. And there's still plenty of crunch left.
Soups: Among the best things they do here. Seasonal, flavorful and prepared well.
Mussels: Mussels are mussels; the broth beneath them is a little watery but the buttered and grilled sourdough bread atop them is the very best thing they do. On the day I order the carrots for dessert, I'm going to attempt a burger on this bread.
Steaks: I've never had one here, but I've observed many a plate go by. If I ever veer off the burger trail, it'll be for their better looking fish.
See also photo captions.
The Bottom Line
Over repeat visits, the burgers at Gibbet Hill have been decent to good, but with too many flaws—some by design, some by execution—to reach that very good to great level. The overall experience, however, is more than justifiable, if only on a periodic basis. For the best experience, go in the fall, get there early, enjoy the foliage and think of the food as less of a main attraction and more as a co-star to the more photogenic space and grounds.
Other Opinion/ Info
Yelp reviews of Gibbet Hill Grill
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