NEW ASHFORD -- For roughly a century, residents and visitors have enjoyed one all-purpose stop for high-quality cuisine, land, sea, and -- not to leave out the signature sweet bread -- grain.
The place is Mill on the Floss, at 342 Route 7. Today, it holds the distinction of being virtually the only remaining restaurant in town.
Head chef and family torch-bearer Suzanne Champagne Ivy has a one-word reason for the restaurant's longevity: "Consistency."
"This is the sort of place people come wanting a particular meal, and then say, ‘It's just like I remembered it,' " Ivy said. "So, I almost have to keep that consistent core menu. But I also like to get creative and add to it."
Though the restaurant's known for beef cooked just to the customer's liking and other standby favorite main dishes and sauces, coupled with locally bought vegetables and an impressive array of des serts, Ivy has enjoyed adding new dishes lately.
These additions have included nightly seafood specials, after this summer brought a relative saltwater craze. One favorite creation was a scallops, haddock and shrimp dish in creamy garlic and risotto.
The new dishes prove that Ivy, even while sticking to the general rule of thumb of timeless cooking techniques, high-quality meals -- "I don't own a microwave or a deep-fryer," she stresses -- remains willing to grow in her profession.
"You always have to be prepared to give the customer what they want," Ivy said. "People incorporate their diet plans into what they have when they eat out, and these things are cyclical. You have to be willing to ride that wave."
Ivy's clearly done so, now going on 10 years as Mill on the Floss' head chef and 25 years total cooking there. Memories of the restaurant span her entire life, back to early childhood, when she and her family lived in an apartment above the restaurant.
Ivy's parents -- Jane and Maurice Champagne -- bought the restaurant from the Van Kott family in the early 1970s, and have since maintained the distinctive, rustic decor of the main dining room and sun-lit front porch.
For her part, Ivy learned to cook through year after year of "on-the-job training" with her father.
In fact, Ivy didn't go to college for cooking.
"My degree is in psychology -- which actually comes in handy very often as a chef, you'd be surprised," she joked.
Mill on the Floss also caters weddings, receptions and other events, on and off site. Its hours are Tuesday through Sunday, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
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