The Milling Room – Fabulous Pasta, but Will I Return?

Newsflash:The Upper West Side is now becoming  a PLACE. First, Parm. And now, The Milling Room.

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This new-ish restaurant in the old Corvo Bianco space is luxe and upscale with a downtown vibe. It’s a great spot for date night and there’s a happy hour in the cozy bar up front.

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Bread

It seems simple and awesome. Warm, pillow peasant bread served with wonderfully buttery, fruity olive oil. I forget how tasty bread is when it’s simply warmed. Even if you’re counting crabs, splurge for this.

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Beet salad

Standard but delicious – sweet, toothsome beets, a tangle of lightly dressed, bright frisee, and some really good creamy, funky blue cheese. The blue cheese is what makes this worth ordering – so often, lesser cheese is paired with beets and this high end cheese is a reminder of how complex and tasty beets really are. The creaminess and salt bring out the beets’ meaty, minerally flavor.

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Orzo mac and cheese

THE BEST mac and cheese I have had since S’mac. I wouldn’t even have ordered this – it was my friend’s choice – but now I could never NOT order it. Creamy and delicate, with no overtly sharp or salty tastes. Instead, it’s a deeply savory,m garlic and herb taste that takes center stage. It’s primarily a textural thing paired with that garlic – creamy orzo, crunchy topping, slightly spicy garlic. It’s not too heavy or salty – you eight want to order 2 dishes for an appetizer as a table for 4.

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Rabbit pappardelle

My new favorite pasta dish in the hood. I rarely order pasta –  prefer to get my crabs the French fried way – and when I do order it, it had better WOW me. This did. The house made papardelle is thick and quite al dente – this is a chewy, eggy noodle. It’s served in a buttery, winey sauce loaded with diced tomato and sweet onions ND roasted garlic flavors. The rabbit is luxurious. It’s not at ALL gamey -it’s juicy and tender without any rubbery fat or unpleasant gristle. It reminds me a lot of pork – it’s more mild, even, than lamb. I would get this again in a heartbeat, and in fact can’t wait to do just that.

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Apple pie

Buttery puff pastry, soft stewed apples, and a drizzle of caramel. Yeah, I knew that you would like it.

So, this place has awesome food, is fairly priced, and is right up the street…sounds perfect, right?

Hold those horses, chief,

There are service issues. Big, bad service issues. It took us FOREVER to get a cocktail list. We had to flag someone down for the bread. We waited 45 minutes in between when my glass of wine was served and when the rest of the party received their beers. What, were they brewing them in the back? The appetizers came out in an appropriate time frame and after we enjoyed we waited for our main courses. And waited. And waited. After an hour – yes an HOUR – my husband finally asked the server where the food might be waiting. The (very nice) server shrugged his shoulders and said that he would check. They were brought to our table about 3 minutes later. The restaurant wasn’t very busy and it wasn’t the first week of service. It was a 3 hour meal without needing to be one. We should have been better attended or at least given some sort of apology for the egregious lack of pacing. The isn’t a cheap dinner, and my husband was so put off by the service that he doesn’t want to return even though the food was great. I would return, but only once more to see if last week’s service was a fluke.

Because, like I said, the UWS is becoming a PLACE. And I would love to see The Milling Room become part of that.