Wall Street Journal Review
7 years, 10 months ago 0
Posted in: Kudos
Wall Street Journal Review

Re-posted from The Wall Street Journal Online

…Or you could drive your Prius to the other side of town, to an un-picturesque stretch of Main Street down the hill from the pristine old Richmond neighborhood where Patrick Henry demanded liberty or death, and see what’s on for dinner at Millie’s Diner.

Back in the mid-20th century, Millie’s really was a diner, slinging hash at workers from the Lucky Strike plant down the way in Shockoe Bottom. The current owners, Paul Keevil and Lisa Edwards, who celebrate the new Millie’s 20th anniversary this year, have gone almost overboard in keeping the greasy spoon note ringing at the 44-seat, two-room joint, while inserting a menu as deft and knowing as you could ever really want. There are vintage graphics on the walls, and vintage chrome-and-push-button Seeburg Wall-o-matic remote selectors connected to the eclectic main jukebox. But the setting is just a deceptively retro and downmarket backdrop for a very interesting dining adventure.

The menu is a deliberate fusion of ingredients and cuisines, concocted from ingredients gathered from nearby and the antipodes. Much of the food is prepared in a cramped open kitchen on an old Vulcan range by young men who trade tattoo stories and move with determined languor toward a spiffy finish. I sat a few feet away and, if I hadn’t been pretty sure they were working on my order, I couldn’t have guessed that they were multi-tasking their way through the assembly of a very large pork chop stuffed with ripe plaintains, pancetta and sage, and garnished with stone-ground mascarpone grits and bitter, rangy broccolini.

I started this feast with Millie’s idea of fried green tomatoes: a perfect version of the classic dish tricked out with roasted red pepper, baby arugula and toasted hazelnuts. Maybe I should have started with beef carpaccio accompanied by local beets, preserved lemon and fancy Parmesan, or the local poblano peppers stuffed with chorizo, corn and black beans, followed with a duck duo (breast and confit) in guava gastrique.

You want to remember to keep room for the peach cobbler or the Almond Joy gelato. And the truly great American-style coffee. And, yes, pay attention to those pictures of the charming dog all over the restaurant and even worked into the pages of the Wall-o-matics. There once was a real dog at Millie’s that got lost. The original sketch was posted to alert the neighbors. Now the dog is irretrievably gone but immortal at Millie’s. Leaving me and you to bark with pleasure after dinner here.

Re-posted from The Wall Street Journal Online

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