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Restaurants

Miller Tavern

Posted by Libby Roach / Reviewed on January 2, 2012 / review policy

Miller TavernMiller Tavern is a jolly good spot. Quite literally actually, since The Miller Tavern was originally known as 'The Jolly Miller', operating as a bar and gambling shanty in old Hoggs Hollow up until it was closed, left vacant for years, then transformed after an extensive and expensive renovation.

Hoggs Hollow (Yonge and York Mills) residents are their bread and butter, with many of their clientele making the not so treacherous walk from one of the neighbouring winding streets. With two floors, a huge patio and a heated veranda, seating is anything but limited. We came on a quiet night, and were seated quickly by the hostess at a very comfy corner booth on the downstairs level, enclosed by TV's playing the hockey game and a cosy gas fireplace.

Miller TavernThe quiet waitress informed us of the local oyster choices for that evening. Even in a dead restaurant I struggled to hear her. We perused the menu; a cultural melting pot, Thai, Indian and Italian were represented, among the other more Canadian fare- steaks and seafood.

Miller TavernWe buckled and shared the Dim Sum platter ($21) to start. Not my first choice, but since I usually end up bothering my dining pals with annoying picture taking and note making, I always try to be a little flexible when it comes to sharing. The dim sum arrived in an oversized bamboo basket with Ha Gau, bok choy, Siu Mai and of course soy sauce. Nothing ground-breaking here, it was cooked properly and the bok choy were delicately steamed and slightly bitter, providing a bright green pop like a visual Prozac.

Miller TavernKnowing that the Dim Sum basket was going to be glutinous, I countered with the crispy Blue Crab & Shrimp cakes ($15.50) for my main. Once I got over the face staring back at me (tell me I'm not crazy) I happily discovered the crusty cakes were worth the wait. Definitely fried, but no greasy aftertaste, these little cakes still encompassed by the claw were lovely and quite filling, although the side of curried mayo was a little too heavy on the curry, and a little too runny to hold up to the cake's crunchy texture.

Miller TavernMy guy ordered the Beef Tenderloin ($26) with a side of sweet potato fries ($6). Meat lovers may recoil here; it couldn't have weighed more than 5 oz. It was dainty, and that's never a good thing when it comes to red meat. Cooked to order, it was a perfectly bloody medium rare, with a swirl of garlic butter melting on top. With no other flavours fighting for taste bud domination, the butter won, and my date's arteries lost. The sweet potato fries were pretty average, crispy, lightly salted but with nothing fun for dipping, they were demoted merely to side dish.

Miller Tavern isn't trying to do anything new or different. They don't need to. It's all about location, and that they have in spades. Historical building, prime corner lot, no immediate competition, check, check and check. Exciting, imaginative menu with good portion sizes and a clear vision? Not so much...

Miller Tavern

Discussion

29 Comments

Laura Mac / January 2, 2012 at 01:18 pm
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Wow - thanks for the heads up and saving me the trouble of EVER going to this rip-off place. $21 for that dim-sum platter pictured?? Unbelievable!! Then $15.50 for two tiny crab & shrimp cakes?? And $26 + $5 for the tiny tenderloin and fries? Thanks goodness there are dozens of other options within a 5-minute drive.
Vanessa / January 2, 2012 at 02:44 pm
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The Burger at the Miller is one of the best in the city! It's worth going here just for the burger....and of course for the cozy atmosphere.
Stephanie / January 2, 2012 at 03:21 pm
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It's a "Tavern," but no report on what range of beers are available, especially on tap?
Japhet / January 2, 2012 at 03:21 pm
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I'm surprised you're not talking about the cocktails. Rob Montgomery's one of the best bartenders in the city.
wazoo / January 2, 2012 at 03:55 pm
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The Miller is one of the most over priced places I have ever gone... It's the kind of place that after you leave, you can't understand how you spent so much money on such ordinary food. I don't mind paying high prices, but I want something in return and I never get that at the Miller. I've been there 5 times over the years, whether it's dinner, snacks on the patio or just for dessert. It's always fine. But fine at those prices...
J.B / January 2, 2012 at 04:04 pm
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This is one of my favourite Toronto restaurants. The atmosphere is hard to beat; the patio is beautiful on a late summer day. I think the menu is priced pretty fairly; and even if it is a little pricey, it keeps the riff-raff at bay.
The Chimp / January 2, 2012 at 04:22 pm
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If I'm going to plunk down my hard earned cash it will be at a real restaurant and not some pretentious faux haute cuisine Jolly Miller... I am old enough to remember the Jolly Miller's previous incarnations and I wasn't greatly impressed but at least the previous clientele weren't snotty posers.
Evan replying to a comment from Stephanie / January 2, 2012 at 04:35 pm
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From the look of the taps in the picture, I think you can expect nothing out of the ordinary.
Richard replying to a comment from J.B / January 2, 2012 at 07:27 pm
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I have no problem paying a lot for food; I HATE paying a lot for average food. $21 for a few morsels of dim sum is nuts. Frankly, someone who looks down a person who thinks that way is "riff raff".
moe / January 2, 2012 at 08:51 pm
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Blogto, be realistic and redo this review. I have been here for number of occasions and I must say as said food is just average, crowd is yuppie suburbanites and overall this place does not represent Toronto and does not attract anyone except its own locals, part of a small bubble.
Jim / January 2, 2012 at 09:26 pm
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greg: yeah, except it lacks any of the requisite humour and just flat out sucks

jb: i'll gladly stay one of the "riff raff" if it means not getting gouged to eat crappy food in an absolutely mediocre location with a bunch of other people who don't mind getting ripped off to feel privileged. although i suppose that's mostly what places like this around the world are for so i don't see it disappearing any time soon. this place sucks
stuffed / January 3, 2012 at 08:49 am
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Noorth Toronto is sooooo unadventurous.
Adam / January 3, 2012 at 09:06 am
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Yes, what Japhet said. Rob Montgomery's retro-esque cocktails are fantastically tasty and made with a lot of care. They're really the thing worth visiting the Miller for.
AV / January 3, 2012 at 09:15 am
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BlogTO: Ever thought of paying someone who actually knows how to write a resto review? If you want to elevate your site above the others in the city then please start with your writing staff. This article is pure amateurish tripe.
Don / January 3, 2012 at 01:13 pm
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I live at Yonge & Lawrence and if I'm hungry the only reason to venture further north is for the Korean food.
Maureen replying to a comment from AV / January 3, 2012 at 02:30 pm
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AV, Libby was writing about an encounter with a vocally challenged waitress in a dead restaurant. No way was this going to turn out good. And Libby, no one gives a hang about your dates' arteries. The taste (or lack of) is what we want to read about.
Dazzlechild / January 5, 2012 at 09:05 am
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I've been to this restaurant a few times. I think it's actually quite good, with a menu that varies based on what's in season at the time. My most recent experience, I ordered their prix fixe menu, and both my date and I thought it was delicious!
Anynymouse / January 5, 2012 at 10:42 am
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This place is garbage. Not only overpriced, the service sucks almost as much as the food does.

Don't waste your time. The only thing that was ever decent was the $3.50 Corona buckets, but that too is long gone.
John / January 5, 2012 at 03:03 pm
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Moe it doesnt have to represent the city since there are many different parts of the city and you certainly cant expect every restaurant to be like the city.

The prices here are quite high considering the quality of food. I have been here numerous times and also walk away feeling like I could have grabbed a pizza somewhere for a fraction of the cost and felt just as satisfied.

Used to be a lot better but has gone downhill. They think they are fine dining and servers/hosts act that way but they are kidding themselves.
Christian / January 6, 2012 at 11:17 am
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Somehow in this mess I feel sad for the Miller. And not because they are an overpriced uptown place to get a decent oyster. I feel sad because all of it is lost on such a poorly written review.
Emms / January 8, 2012 at 06:09 pm
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After reading the review and the comments attached I believe that the review is quite accurate. Thank you Libby for posting an honest opinion. If I am in the area looking for a place to have a cocktail in a nice atmosphere, I know where to go.
Hepman replying to a comment from Emms / January 9, 2012 at 10:11 am
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Emms, so you like dead restaurants where you need a hearing aid to know whats on special, eh?
Victoria Park / January 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm
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I miss the old Miller...the ones with trays of draft, fake ids and drunk Lawrence Park CI 16 and 17 year olds...
moe replying to a comment from John / January 9, 2012 at 10:26 pm
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@John, I did not complain about the price, well I should have. I have eaten there, host my engagement there, and since my family lives in the area I am bound to go back. To be honest I cannot finish their "surf and turf" on my own, it is a bog portion, but the quality is sad. that is what i am saying, alas, there is nothing in that area that should stop anyone commuting for a good food. by mark is the same price but the food is divine. though i am happy that burger cellar and the newly opened priest may save the area from food oblivion. So John, read well before you antagonize or the quarantined bubble would burst!
Ballyhho replying to a comment from J.B / January 13, 2012 at 02:01 pm
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J B , you sound like you are the ''riff-raff'. Seriously.
Blah / April 2, 2012 at 11:18 am
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This place is a joke! prices are totally over priced and you can't make party resevations without haveing a minimum spending amount! What kind of place does that?!?1 I left hungry and would have been happier going to mcDonalds.
Mike P / May 5, 2012 at 05:10 pm
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One of the main points of Miller Tavern is lost here. Their drinks, let's start with 4 variants of the bloody caesar, one of them featuring bacon infused vodka and fresh grated horseradish. Sure they may all be 10$ but you get nearly 1 litre, a full celery stalk and 10" long green bean. (2 thumbs up from me). Also offering over 25 other cocktails, an extensive CRAFT BEER selection, along with ports, cognac and a BIG wine list. They even let you bring up to 3 bottles I think for 4$ a bottle corking fee, that's not bad. May I strongly suggest their Sangria, (red wine, brandy, and fresh squeezed fruits) 23$ for a full pitcher. Again 2 thumbs up. Yes I've been here 3 times for breakfast alone and for me and my buddy it's always 100$ but there's a feeling I leave there with that only a few restaurants have given me (Octagon, Keg Niagara Falls to name a couple). I have been to both Miller locations (miller burger with lamb poutine) incredible, sure the lobster quesadilla is 33$ but you get 6oz of real lobster. If that's too much $$ then what about the 14$ charcuterie board. Such a nice little treat I would pay 25$ for it. I'm not wealthy at all but I don't eat fast food "period" and I don't cheap out when it comes to eating healthy, good food.
Sean / August 21, 2012 at 12:09 pm
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Inspected on: August 14, 2012
Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional Pass)
Number of infractions: 11 (Minor: 5, Significant: 5, Crucial: 1)
Crucial infractions include: Failure to protect food from contamination
Raffy replying to a comment from J.B / August 21, 2012 at 09:45 pm
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Look at all those infractions. Must have been the 'riff-raff', hmmm?

Enjoy your food.

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