Millie’s Diner: The Food Speaks for Itself

Words and Photos by Lauren N. Colie

 

 

 

Far beyond the walking range of the average VCU student, Millie’s Diner sits humbly in the shadow of Kelly Point, which is another name for Libby Hill Park. The climb to reach the top might be steep, but dinner prices at Millie’s are even steeper. The lighting is dim, the seats are hard and the service borders on unfriendly. I almost wrote the diner off entirely thinking surely our outing was going to be wasted on a grungy location that some critics seem to love.

After walking almost three frigid miles with my friend, all I wanted to do was slide into a warm booth and order hot tea. However, we missed Millie’s famed weekend brunch by about 5 minutes and were shooed back into the cold to wait for dinner. We walked across the street to Kelly Point. Shivering, we sat on a bench and scanned all of Richmond while we waited for Millie’s to gear up for the dinner crowd.

Returning to the door at exactly 5:31 p.m., we were the first guests ushered into the 44-person dining room. The menus presented by our server were still warm, as Millie’s designs and prints a new offering every few weeks. The staff wasn’t particularly bubbly, but the chefs working magic in the tiny open kitchen by the front door were charmingly busy.

Expecting excellent brunch fare, I had to do a double-take to make sure I’d actually read “wild salmon” on the menu. I hadn’t known Millie’s transformed into a classy evening hotspot – but the warm earthiness of beet soup as an appetizer (pink beet soup) thawed my fingers and my opinion of the diner. I forgave the cramped quarters, brightly-colored atmosphere and less-than-friendly staff immediately. I spent some quality time with hot tea and lemon while my friend fiddled with the vintage jukebox sitting on our table.

I ordered a chicken breast over Brussels sprouts for dinner. The skin of the chicken broke open crisply to juicy, tender meat underneath. The Brussels sprouts were cooked with morsels of meaty bacon, melding with juices from the chicken and a salty sauce. While the atmosphere and the food didn’t make much sense in my head, the taste and feeling were right.

At heart, I truly believe dessert should have chocolate in it, so we chose not to order from Millie’s menu. While the options of bread pudding and spice cake would probably have been excellent examples of how to do those dishes successfully, the dessert menu lacked the chocolate decadence I was craving. As we left, a hearty “have a good night” spilled out from the kitchen and I caught a glimpse of a white apron.

Millie’s has some flaws that might better be described as “quirks.” These minor offenses are eclipsed by the sheer quality of the food. The distance might be far, the prices might be a little high, but if the point of a good dining experience is a unique atmosphere and a delicious meal, Millie’s stuck the landing. I’d recommend the diner as a date destination or somewhere to bring your parents – especially if you want to check out the view from Kelly Point, right across the street. I’ll be returning soon to see if brunch at Millie’s lives up to the acclaim.

The following two tabs change content below.
Top Five: Best Places to Get Pad Thai

Top Five: Best Places to Get Pad Thai Words and Photos by Aleena InthalyA nicely plated Pad Thai from Elephant Thai A delicious Pad Thai is a right balance of salty and sweet flavors that will melt in your mouth! Pad Thai is a well-known rice noodle dish that is made up of sweet tamarind, vinegar, and chilies garnished with bean sprouts and gre...

Preview

Shafer Bird WELCOME! If you are reading this, you already know the most trusted name in VCU dining news. We hope to continue bringing you the latest menu updates, as well as reviewing on-campus dining facilities, off-campus restaurants and investigating what’s really in the Shafer Chilli.We have reviews coming soon from our staff writer’...

Preview

So you think you like Mexican food? Here’s Zoca for you. VCU’s answer to the Mexican food audience. They make everything right in front of you, exactly how you order it, whether that’s a burrito or hard shell tacos. They have you covered.OPTIONSYou can have tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. Your typical fastfood Mexican type thing....

Preview

Shafer Bird WELCOME! If you are reading this, you already know the most trusted name in VCU dining news. We hope to continue bringing you the latest menu updates, as well as reviewing on-campus dining facilities, off-campus restaurants and investigating what’s really in the Shafer Chilli.We have reviews coming soon from our staff writer’...