There are two kinds of restaurant openings.
The first is the one that goes smoothly. More seats are available than diners to fill them. The kitchen staff operates effortlessly with equipment that behaves perfectly. Diners leave satisfied and happy.
The second is the kind where the staff finds out there’s a flaw in the electrical system at the worst possible time. Diners stand around waiting for a table. The ones who are seated get “hangry” waiting for their food.
The former is what every restaurant wants. The latter is what typically happens.
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The Mill Restaurant and Sports Bar experienced that second kind when it opened June 8 in Milton.
Two hectic days of service led to a Facebook apology for not keeping up with demand and this announcement:
“We reluctantly and with huge amount of consideration have decided that we need to do everything on our part to ensure this does not happen again. With that being said we have made the difficult decision to close Saturday and Sunday to get electrical issues fixed, restocked, reset, and come back with our A-game to ensure we fix everything we need to on our end to enhance your experience.”
It reopened June 12 after restocking and resetting.
I saw just how much Milton has been anticipating the opening of another family-friendly restaurant. It was packed.
I offer this advice: Wait a few weeks to visit.
It’s this paper’s policy to skip criticism of food and service during a restaurant’s first month (see paragraph three).
Here’s a first-bite look.
The owners: Kate Lowry grew up in Milton and now lives in Edgewood. She and brother Dustin Lowry operate the restaurant. This is Kate’s second. She’s owned Ricky J’s in Frederickson for eight years.
In the kitchen: Chef Alex Anton, son of longtime Puyallup restaurant owner, Jim Anton.
The space: Talk about dual experiences. Divergent, separate spaces comprise this attractive, newly made space.
Family friendly dining: Enter to the right and diners will find cushy booths and banquette seating lining the wood-wrapped walls of a handsome, rustic dining room decorated with historic photo tributes to the city’s early years as a lumber town.
Well-spaced tables with seating for four-to-six held the center of the room. Dim, pendant lighting softened the mood, and all that wood on the walls softened the din.
The bar: Enter through a separate entrance to the left and diners will find a completely enclosed high-energy bar with a flat-panel screen viewable from every angle. High-top seating spans the deep space geared only for grownups. A bar menu debuts in the next two weeks ($3-$15).
Menu highlights: 21st-century updates to classic 20th-century American food. Find chef touches added to diner sandwiches, grilled meats and classic pasta dishes. Presentation also trends to the modern side with plates swapped for wooden boards for some grilled items.
Lunch: Sandwiches and burgers make up most of the lunch menu and include a pork-strami Reuben sandwich ($14), chicken-bacon club ($16), Dungeness crab melt ($18) and three burgers ($10-$17). Also, two pastas ($8-$17) and larger entrees, including ribs ($19), fish and chips ($16) and steak frites ($24).
Lunch note: Dinner service only for now, but lunch should start in the next few weeks.
Dinner menu: About a dozen starters, such as Dungeness crab hush puppies ($16), house pickles ($5), chicken-fried oysters ($15) and wings ($12). Dinner entrees include roasted half Jidori chicken ($20), Kurobuta pork ribs ($19/$26), Niman Ranch bone-in pork chop ($24), Snake River Farms Wagyu sirloin steak ($24), Hudson Valley duck ($27), Columbia River steelhead ($25), weekend-only prime rib ($29-$47). Vegan and vegetarian items listed, plus gluten-free notations throughout the menu.
A choice of six children’s meals with fish and chips ($6), grilled cheese ($5), bacon cheeseburger ($6).
The food leans: Upscale with premium ingredients, such as Wagyu-style beef, duck and prime rib, and upscale prices to match. The food trends expensive for that area. The come-as-you-are atmosphere makes it feel like an anytime place to visit.
Try the: Half-pound Wagyu beef burger with a thick layer of Tillamook sharp cheddar and criss-crossed slices of smoky Kurobuta bacon ($16). Stacked tall on a sturdy bun spread with tangy burger sauce, plus leaf lettuce, tomato and sliced onions on the bottom bun. House pickles served on the side alongside thick-cut wedge fries. Plate? Who needs a plate. This was served on a board. Extra points for asking how we wanted the burger cooked. It arrived as ordered.
Baby back ribs were dry rubbed, cooked low-and-slow, then finished on the grill ($19 half/$26 full). Served with house slaw with a hefty tweak of spice and those chunky-cut house fries that were more soft than crispy.
House ketchup flanked those fries, with a sweet edge and mild tang.
Spring carbonara with wavy ribbons of fresh pasta soaking up the eggy sauce ($17). The dish was topped with spring pea pods, thick-cut bacon and shaved Grana Padano cheese.
Attention pickle fans, don’t miss starting your meal with a jar of house pickled radishes, green beans and onions ($5).