Weekend dining report from Milford

This weekend Carolyn and I visited two of our newer restaurants in Milford and came away impressed with both.

On Friday we had dinner with friend at Tavern 131, which is on the southwestern corner of the Village where South Milford Road and GM Road intersect. Tavern 131 open earlier this year and we’d been there before, but not since they remodeled the interior. When Tavern 131 first opened they still had the industrial look ceiling, you know beams, rafters, roof and lots of noise as a result. They’ve since put a nice finished ceiling in and the noise level has come down considerably. You can now have a conversation with table mates without having to yell over the noise.

The food was excellent again and the service was good. One of the owner/operators, Tony Vulaj was by our table a couple of times and stopped to chat. I’ve met Tony a couple of times at Chamber of Commerce functions that he attends. The Vulaj family owns Tavern 131 and the Americus Coney and Grill in Milford, as well as the Americus Coney in Brighton and the Ciao Amici Italian restaurant in Brighton. They brought many of their Italian recipes from Ciao Amici and Tony mentioned that they also brought a couple of the Ciao Amici cooks over to Tavern 131. That explains the great Italian food.

While we were there Tony introduced us to his sister who was also working that night and his dad, Mike – the family patriarch- stopped by too. Mike normally is over at Americus running things there. It’s not only a nice touch that they are there, but it probably keeps the place running much smoother, too. Tony mentioned that most of the family lives in the Milford area and that they really like being a part of the community. I was happy that Americus took a supporter role in this year’s Milford Home Tour.

Anyway we had a nice meal and a bottle of wine and would certainly recommend Tavern 131 to anyone visiting Milford and looking for a good place to eat, especially if they like good Italian food. Tavern 131 has a very extensive menu, not just Italian; so, you’re bound to be able to find something for everyone in the family there. And if you like to party, Tavern 131 is having a Halloween Bash at the end of the month. You can click here to view the flyer for that event.

On Saturday night we decided to try the new Palate restaurant right downtown in Milford at 449 N. Main St. The Palate has actually been open for about a month and I’d been in for lunch, but not for dinner yet. I met owner/operator Joe Hibbert back before he opened because he took a major sponsorship position (actually the highest level of sponsor that we had) for this year’s Milford Home Tour. Joe is dedicated to becoming an active part of the community and I expect to interact with him a lot on various events. Before coming to Milford to open the Palate, Joe ran the Uptown Grill in Commerce.

The dining experience is very high tech at the Palate, starting with the hostess asking for your cell phone number and entering that into their computerized system. Almost immediately you get a text message telling you how long your wait might be. When the table is ready you get another text message, which works out as good, if not better, than those little pagers that some other places use. The final text message comes after you’ve left, thanking you for your visit and inviting you to join their oin-line reservation system for your next visit – you won’t get that on a restaurant pager. The wait staff is all equipped with iPads and that is how they enter your order, rather than writing it on a scrap of paper. The order is transmitted via WiFi to the kitchen. In fact, the whole place is a WiFi hotspot, so your smartphones will operate at full speed. My wife could care less, but I was impressed with all of the technology involved.

The service was attentive and the wait person knowledgeable about the menu, which is always helpful in a new place. We were in the mood for a pizza and tried the “Carnivore” pizza, a meat -lovers delight, with pepperoni, sausage and bacon. That turned out to be an excellent choice.

We had time to chat a bit with the people at the table next to us, and they were very happy with the appetizers that they were having while awaiting another couple for dinner. The menu looks very interesting and we both agreed we’ll be back to try other entrees. I’m particularly interested in how their “farm to table” approach of featuring different dishes during the year will work out, depending upon what’s available locally. Right now they are also using an Octoberfest theme, which ties nicely into their huge selection of craft beers.

I’m not a big beer drinker but they certainly have an extensive menu of over 30 craft beers on tap. I tried one at the recommendation of our waitress and it was very good. They also have a good wine menu, although no white zinfandel which is my wife’s favorite. Fortunately they have some nice Rieslings. too, which she also likes. Their prices seemed in line with the other better restaurants in town. We’d certainly recommend the Palate to visitors, too.

I wrote about a month back that two of our local eateries and closed – The Villa Coney and Klancy’s – and the world did not come to an end. It’s nice though to see two newer places that have opened that I can actually recommend to people. Milford is a great place to live and to eat. I hope both of these restaurants do well. They both add to Milford reputation as a destination for fine dining.

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