Miller 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.
The 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.
We 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.
Knowing 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.
My 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...