Mill St Bistro
UPDATE MAY 2012:
I went to retry this restaurant remembering how good it was last year. There was no bartender to found, the chef from 2011 was no where to be found, and the owner of the restaurant was the only one in the kitchen. He has no idea about kitchen and dish management. He was making all dishes ordered by each table in the order the tickets arrived in the kitchen. That means all apps, soups, salads and entree per person arrives to the table at the same time. He was was not preparing apps, soups or salads first. So, I got there at about before 7 pm, and I was the 6th table to be seated. There were 2 four-tops, and the rest two-tops. I put my order in, and I waited over an hour for anything to arrive at my table. I was hungry, barely got 1 cup of water, and was thirsty. I asked for my salad. The waitress said that my ticket was in the kitchen, and I was 3rd in line for food, with 2 other tables which waited longer than me. The owner would not send out the salad because he was going to make all the dishes in my order at one time and send them out together. The waitress went on to say that there were 2 other tables ahead of me (1 four-top and 1 two-top), and I will have to wait. Hell no, I wasn't going to wait. Well looking at my wait so far, I think I probably had over an hour wait for the 2 tables to get food before mine was going to be fired. Well screw that, I walked out looking for a meal that would arrive at my table before 9 pm after waiting forever.
ORIGINAL POST JUNE 2011:
There is this hidden little gem of a restaurant in the middle of the North Coast of Ohio that I really dig, it is Mill Street Bisto. This place is located about 10 miles south of center point between Toledo and Cleveland in the small town of Norwalk, OH. The gig here is they serve up farmed game meats, local and local organic veggies when they can get them in. I was intrigued when I saw the menu online and it had farmed elk, buffalo and game hens.
It was over 20 years ago, in my Pennsylvania days, when I was at a game-night dinner, and I mean game meat, not playing board games. Tom, one from the country who grew up supplying venison protein for his house, he brought some venison tenderloin to the table. Steve, another one who grew up providing for his family, just had a trip out to the western mountains and he brought elk short ribs with him. Lynn and I, well we did not grow up with that tradition, so our big game offering came from the grocery store. I still recall my first taste of wild elk short ribs, and I remember thinking that this was the best meat I have ever tasted in my life. It was the 1st time I have ever had elk, and up this point, the last time I have had elk.
In Tennessee, elk population is so low or extinct, that it has been illegal to hunt elk for all the years I have lived here. There are signs up in Check-In stations showing photos and pictures of white tail deer which are legal with a license, and the elk which are not deer. Now, in 2011, elk populations are up, and there will be only 5 licenses for the take of 1 in all of TN. It is unlikely that I will know any of the 5 license holders, so I just thought it would be unlikely that I would ever taste elk again.
Then, there is Mill Street Bistro serving up locally farmed game meats including elk. I was thrilled. I have such fond memories of game-meat night back 20 years ago, and I still think about that meal and elk, that I was ready to try Mill Street Bistro and see if I still like elk.
We got a ground elk quesadilla to start and for my entree I got elk filet medallions in a mushroom demiglace accompanied with local roasted beets and new potatoes. The quesadilla was a spicy dish which was fun, but the spice covered up the flavor of the elk. The dish could have been ground chicken, turkey, beef, or soy protein globs, and I wouldn't know the difference through the spice. My entree was made with a lighter hand with regards to spices, so each component was able to be enjoyed without taste bud fatigue. The elk filet was really smooth and melted in my mouth. The variety of umami mushrooms in the demiglace was perfect with the elk. The demiglace was so good that at the end of the meal, I did take a spoonful of it, so I could have it as the last flavor of the evening. I love roasted fresh beets, simply served plain, no sauce or spice. The bonus for me is that the beets are locally and organically grown just up the road from Mill Street, and you know me, I love local organic foods. And who doesn't love a roasted potato? Huh, who? Well, I know I love roasted potatoes.
As we were leaving, we peeked at the back patio which was being transformed into a casual beer, wine, cigar and casual dining area this summer. That might be something fun for me to try in the coming summer months.