The Mill Bar and Grill
Where: 13806 P St.
Hours: Open daily, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
About:The Mill Bar and Grill is owned by Timo Karfias, who owns the building in which it resides. It is operated by J.D. Cunningham, who created the menu and is responsible for day-to-day operation.
The Mill gets its name from the Millard neighborhood in which it resides.
The restaurant offers a variety of daily lunch and drink specials, including daily specials on tacos, wings and pizzas. Also, there is a rotation of items offered daily not on the normal menu, such as a pork tenderloin sandwich.
The restaurant puts ice in its urinals, which helps control the smell of the men's bathroom.
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When first perusing a restaurant's menu, my eyes tend to drift toward any “signature” items — those made to stand out to help cure my chronic indecisiveness.
After all, the menu's creators must know their own food better than anyone, so I tend to give them my trust as they offer a subtle shove toward the best dishes they create.
On my visits to The Mill Bar and Grill in Millard, my companions and I primarily focused on these items. What we found was a casual, clean and comfortable neighborhood spot that, outside of a few mistakes, is executing classic takes on sports bar fare with sophisticated touches.
The Mill has been open since May, but it still looks and feels brand new, which is a credit to how spotless it was on both my visits.
The interior impresses with its warmth thanks to the dark colors and electric fireplace along one wall, but maintains a sports bar feel with high top tables, a long bar with seating for about 12, an adequate selection of 10 draft beers and large flat screen TVs in every direction.
I'd heard The Mill had great Buffalo wings, the best in town according to some, so we decided to split a dozen of them as an appetizer. While any “best in town” claims are subjective, I can say that these were some amazing wings. They are among the best I've had in Omaha.
We ordered them with the regular hot sauce and “char-buffed”— a method in which the wings are placed on a grill after frying to enhance their crispiness — and got a dozen meaty, crunchy wings. They had just the right amount of their spicy Buffalo sauce, which they accentuate by adding ingredients to a pre-made base, giving the wings a succulent peppery, vinegary finish.
Accompanied by some homemade blue cheese dressing to cool the spice, they were flawless. My companion, a midtown resident, commented that he would make the drive to Millard just to pick these up for a day of watching football, which I thought summed them up perfectly.
J.D. Cunningham, The Mill's general manager, said the wings are among their most popular takeout items and are quickly developing a following around the Millard area. They are never frozen and are offered with five sauces.
The entrees we tried were also mostly successful. My friend went with the signature open-faced prime rib sandwich, a cooked-to-temperature prime rib served atop a Rotella's hoagie bun and topped with a fried egg and horseradish sauce.
The prime rib was cooked closer to medium than the medium-rare that was requested, but still avoided being dry. The hearty fried egg was a memorable topping and the sour cream-based horseradish sauce added a little spice to an otherwise savory sandwich.
I went with the signature Mill Burger with parmesan chips. The burger is a single patty topped with fried onions, smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce. It was another highlight.
I appreciated that the patty was hand-formed, which allowed the never-frozen ground beef to maintain its juice, and that the fried onions were made from scratch. The bacon was also firm and thicker than the typical store-bought selections, and that added a needed textural departure from the softness of the other ingredients.
I was less enthused about the parmesan chips. While it was obvious that they were cut by hand and fried before being sprinkled with the cheese, again demonstrating considerable effort, I was thrown off by the limp, chewy texture. I expected them to be as crunchy as a potato chip, but instead they seemed to be somewhere between a chip and a french fry.
Cunningham said that they are supposed to be a bit softer than a chip but if they do cut them a bit too thick, they can get too soft, a danger when making everything from scratch.
On the next visit, a friend and I decided to start with some nachos topped with grilled chicken. We were glad we did. The grilled chicken tasted like it was fresh off the grill and sliced, a fact later confirmed by Cunningham. Also the fresh jalapeŮos were a welcome change from the usual canned variety. The chips were cut from tortillas and fried on site, according to Cunningham.
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For my entrťe, I went with another special: a cheese pizza. The 10-inch pie, cut into squares, was a bit of a mixed bag.
While I appreciated the richness of the generous, high-quality mozzarella cheese topping and the texture of the chunky, garlicky tomato-laden sauce, I was not as enthused about the pizza's crust. While not too thick, the crust felt a bit soft for my liking and was not as firm on bottom as I prefer.
“We make our crust from raw dough, and the pizza is baked in a small oven,” Cunningham said. “We didn't have a specific style of pizza in mind, but we knew we didn't want it too thick or too thin.”
My companion had the fish and chips, which featured battered cod fillets atop a bed of fries and a side dish of creamy coleslaw. The cod was cooked to perfection, and the batter provided a crisp, flaky texture, which provided a nice contrast to the soft, warm fish inside. The fries were spot-on in both taste and touch.
Service on both visits was outstanding. Each time we were given a rundown of the daily specials from our friendly servers, and wait times for food were never out of the ordinary. And again, it's hard to overstate just how clean The Mill is, which shows an attention to detail evident in the food and a respect for its customers.
“We are here for Millard,” Cunningham said. “We want to be something different than a hole in the wall, because that's what our customers and this neighborhood deserves.”
With some of the best wings around and a selection of signature dishes that it can comfortably rely on, there is a lot on the menu at The Mill that truly stands out.