Thursday, July 10, 2008
Once upon a time Millie's was the only game in town. Sure, there was the House of Pies and the coffee shop on Sunset that is now some kind of brewpub -- but no one ever went there. Millie's had a strong family vibe. Everyone in the neighborhood considered it home. Most of the servers were local musicians, and everyone knew each other. Then new restaurants started popping up all over town, and when Millie's changed hands around 8 years ago, it was the final nail in the coffin. Millie's fell off the map.
Recently an old local came into town, and feeling nostalgic, we returned to our old haunt. I couldn't believe it. There was al fresco dining, so the seating was not as cramped, and the wait was not so long. The servers were still super cool and the food was -- better. Much better. I remember one day 15 years ago when I wanted fresh avocado for my omelette, and my friend walked over to the produce stand on the corner to pick one up for me.
Not anymore. Fresh fruits and vegetables are in abundance at Millie's. The Avocado is at that rare peak of ripeness that only lasts 2 days. The fruit salad was sweet and the fruit was tender and soft without being gushy. Everything was at its peak.
The Devil's Mess:
There is plenty on the menu to please carnivores and vegans alike. Low carb, low-fat, and even biscuits and gravy -- they've got it all. I am particularly fond of the scrambles with toppings, which they call a "mess" I don't know why phrases like "garbage plate" and "mess" are so appealing. It's either the little kid or the biker in me.
If I had to categorize their food I would call it a cross between California Fresh and American Regional. Besides Southern biscuits and gravy, they serve a hangtown fry, corned beef hash, chilaquiles, and a salmon benedict.
But the regional favorite I had to try out on my last visit was the chicken friend steak. Like eggs benedict, it is a true test of a kitchen's skill. And they came through. The pounded steak stayed crispy even under the blanket of thick (and rich) gravy. The potatoes may appear a little burned, but they are just right. Their biscuits are light and fluffy, like angel's breath.
My most recent dining companion, LAist's own Lindsay, chose the Eleanor R (Two eggs over-easy, cheddar cheese, over a layer of rosemary potatoes, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream) for which I was grateful. I had been curious to try that dish. But the name made me think of Eleanor Rigby, which made it seem too lonely. Maybe they should change the name to Eleanor G (I think you're swell...") Later I learned it was named for Eleanor roosevelt. Again, everything on the Eleanor R was excellent. The only complaint was that the eggs arrived cold. My own eggs weren't really hot either, but I spend so much time taking pictures and yapping with waitresses I've become accustomed to eating cold food.
The chocolate chip pancakes were killer, even if I could only try a little bite. They were light and fluffy without being too thick and heavy. Lindsay was not so impressed. She felt the use of dark chocolate was a bit much. And supertasters are sensitive to that kind of bitterness.
For those of you with special dietary needs, Millie's offers The Angel's Mess (tofu scrambled with vegan sausage and casein-free soy cheese. Served with your choice of bread and a delectable fruit cup). The tofu scramble (colorful seasonal vegetables, tofu marinated in a sesame ginger soy sauce served on a bed of soy sauce) does not specifically say vegan, but that would be my bet.
They also have some delicious-looking oatmeal, omelettes, and a variations on a special called "the regular" which is kind of like a "Grand Slam".
Overall, I was extremely impressed by the quality of the food, the cooking skills, and the good service. That coffee cup was never empty. The variety is practically on the level of Jerry's Deli. It is rare that I look at a menu and want to try practically everything on it. I will be back soon to check out the intriguing Jackie G (Three scrambled eggs with cream cheese, scallions and sherry wine).
Of course, I only eat at Millie's on weekedays. It is a brave diner who attempts to hit this place on a weekend, when the crowd, true to the name, are always milling about.
The most man ray menu in town
see you next time!