The Mill Restaurant and Lounge

themill185_4c_final-copyThe Mill Restaurant and Lounge
185 West Boylston St. West Boylston

Why are there so few dining alternatives in West Boylston? It’s not for lack of effort…several attempts to succeed at 185 West Boylston Street alone have failed in the past few years. And now a new contender, The Mill, has thrown its hat into the ring with a menu of American Comfort, Italian-American and ~ a welcome surprise ~ smokehouse entrees.

When one enters The Mill, the dominant features are a large bar and lounge area. Satellite dining rooms open onto it and provide intimate areas for enjoying a meal. The overall interior design is shades of caramel and the walls are hung with contrasting artwork.

We arrived at The Mill early one evening when the weather was still warm and were easily convinced to sit on the front deck. After introducing herself, Stephanie took our drink orders and fielded questions about the menu. She explained that they’d added a big smoker out back in the kitchen. Stephanie immediately impressed me as knowledgeable and proud of The Mill. We were off to a very good start.

smoked-salmon-app-copyOur dining began with The Mill’s Smoked Salmon, an appetizer my dining companion and I decided to share. The menu described it as smoke-baked and it turned out to be a long, narrow fillet served with crunchy coleslaw. A glaze of smoky flavor locked in the salmon’s flavor and juices; the tender meat flaked apart as we attacked both ends of the filet. It came with a mayonnaise-based remoulade sauce, but I’m a purist when it comes to these things ~ unless a condiment is outrageously exceptional, I prefer to enjoy my meal without saucy amplification. The remoulade was not exceptional; the salmon was.

Mulling over the American Comfort part of the menu, my friend couldn’t make a decision. Steak tips? Meatloaf? Shepard’s pie [sic]? Stephanie recommended their Shepard’s Pie and raved about it ‘til I asked if it were worthy of a throwdown with the famous restaurant up the street. “Throwdown? We’d win!” she exclaimed. My friend decided to find out for himself.

smoked-chicken-andouille-copyShepherd’s pie is a dish the Irish invented to use leftover mutton and, no surprise, potatoes. The Mill uses a modern approach and layers garlic mashed potatoes over ground beef over peas and corn. It comes piping hot in an oval baking dish topped with crossed asparagus spears. Bring on the competition! With just the right amount of pepper it was seasoned correctly and should be perfect in the approaching cooler months.

My entrée, Andouille & Chicken Combo, took me deeper into The Mill’s smokehouse fare. If you’ve ever had jambalaya, in all likelihood you’ve had andouille sausage ~ it’s spicy and meant to be smoked and it was, on this dish, the star attraction. The boneless breast of chicken had mild smoky flavor but was overshadowed by the little pot of spicy baked beans. Based upon the beans’ Kansas City-style barbeque sauce, I’d return to The Mill to try their Pulled Pork or Rack of Ribs plates.

fantasy-cake-copyWe finished by sharing a wedge of The Mill’s own Chocolate Fantasy Cake. Thick chocolate mousse topped a layer of moist chocolate cake, all drizzled with white chocolate sauce. For those fond of gooey, chocolatey richness, order the Fantasy and don’t share! It was that good.

From start to finish, I’m pulling for The Mill Restaurant. Their service staff is upbeat and engaged; the menu has a lot of basic fare but is peppered with some unusual items that set them apart. In short, there are plenty of reasons for a return visit.