Rich and Cassie Parente have been bringing fresh and inventive farm-to-table meals to Brewster since 2013 and despite the tremendous challenges of the past nearly two years, their Clock Tower Grill is on the rebound, welcoming customers who appreciate an inventive, locally sourced menu and a warm, inviting space.
The hard-working couple are restaurant vets who worked together in other eateries, but Clock Tower is their baby— Culinary Institute of America alumnus Rich mans the kitchen and Cassie heads up the front of house. Three years into their venture, they decided to run their own farm; their livestock provides all the lamb and pork on the menu, plus a portion of the beef. During the height of the pandemic, they also built greenhouses to grow their own vegetables. Anything they don’t harvest themselves comes from a variety of nearby farms that are ethically run, including Ronnybrook Farm in Ancramdale for dairy and Brewster’s JD Farms for produce and eggs.
Cassie grew up on a hobby farm in Nova Scotia and had some experience handling livestock, but the couple faced a steep learning curve when first trying to operate a farm and a restaurant at the same time. “We get up early, hit the ground running, and then we finish up, pass out and start the day all over again,” says Rich.
Despite being exhausted most of the time, the experience has been rewarding, especially the new-found appreciation the couple has for the food they serve. One of the Parentes’ main goals when opening Clock Tower was to “fight the good fight in our broken food system,” says Rich. Since starting the farm, they’ve been able to dramatically reduce restaurant food waste. They also try to utilize as many parts of their livestock as possible, feed their pigs surplus food from the grill, and compost any other leftovers.
But sustainability isn’t the only priority, an enjoyable meal is on the menu too. The two are always trying to keep things fun, and to provide a slightly different experience to their customers every time they visit. Although the menu changes depending on what ingredients are in season, there are many items that are always available including smoked duck breast with spaetzle, veggies, and a cider demi glaze, short ribs braised in mirin and red wine with caramelized carrots and mash, and the popular gyro made with their own lamb and beef. The drinks menu is worth checking out too; many of the cocktails are crafted with spirits from nearby distilleries, like the bourbon from Cooper’s Daughter at Olde York Farm in Claverack.
You can also take prepared food and other treats home from their in-house store dubbed “The Pantry.” Select from homemade pot pies, brown sugar bacon, homemade marshmallows, sourdough crackers, and other locally sourced provisions.