Millie's Diner, 2603 E. Main Street, Richmond
Karisa: Every time I talk about brunch/this little brunch blog with Richmonders, (which happens surprisingly often) they inevitably say "Oh, have you been to Millie's yet?" I have always replied "Not yet, but it's high on our list!" Well, now we've been. We've been, and I don't feel the need to rush back soon. Maybe it's all the hype, but to me, this was just an average brunch experience. Aside from the company, that is - they were fabulous as always.
I expected a wait, as that is always the caveat after the "You must go!" Millie's sentiment. I'd meant to have a snack before heading out to Millie's, but I forgot, so I was super hungry during the long wait for a table. Fortunately, I was able to sip a mimosa (or two) while hanging out on the sidewalk on a gorgeous Richmond day. It was okay, with the first sip a tad off-putting, but getting significantly better as I continued to drink (as drinks tend to do.) Once we were finally seated, I ordered the Veggie Mess. I wish I'd gone with the Huevos, but a Mess seemed like the Millie's way to go. Plus, I never met an avocado I didn't like. It was fine, lots of veggies with eggs and cheese, but it was missing some sort of oomph.
Overall the drinks were acceptable (but crazy pricey!), the food was decently good, the atmosphere uncomfortably warm (I broke a nose sweat!), and I had a creepy plastic baby staring at me the whole meal. Again, no need to rush back.
Andrea: Millie's was, in a word, disappointing. Claustrophobic. Dark. Not-up-to-the-hype. Wait...that last one was really five words. Oh well. I live right around the corner from Millie's so I wanted to love it and know that the hordes of people I see hangin' out on the street corner aren't wasting their time. And the food wasn't bad by any means. Those two guys in the tiny corner of a kitchen were working their butts off and our food came out pretty quickly considering everything. The general atmosphere just wasn't my scene. On a cool day outside it still was uncomfortably warm inside, dark, and loud. And I haven't made up my mind about whether I like chalkboard menus. Sure, they're cute and can be colorful, but my eyesight is POOR and from our vantage point in the corner of the back room, my neck was at a mighty uncomfortable angle to read.
I had Castro's Mess, and I'm not talking about the Cuban Missile Crisis. I liked the copious amounts of pork and the black beans in it, but I felt like it was missing a little pizzazz of some kind. Something a bit bright to wake it up, like maybe more cilantro? The coffee was meh and I had to give the waitress the death stare before she refilled my cup. The atmosphere was suitably kitschy and similar to the decor of the other restaurants that share the same owner, including a creepy baby. What probably disappointed me the most, though, was the sticker shock for the drinks; the mimosa was nowhere near its $8 price tag. And overall, the experience wasn't worth the 40-45 minute wait.
Michele: I've been hearing about brunch at Millie's since I first moved to Richmond 5 years ago, so I was well aware of their Institution Status in this town for a long time. I arrived first this week, so I snaked my way through the crowd outside to put my name down for our table. The manager is quite a character. When I told him my name to hold our table, him and the fellow at the closest bar seat belted out "Miiiiichele, ma belle!" Even though I get sung that song somewhat regularly when I introduce myself to a new person, it makes me smile every time. In any case, he switched back to salesman mode quite quickly and said, "And can I get you four Bloody Mary's?" I wanted to respond, "no they'll all kill me if I get them Bloody Mary's," but I declined more politely and ordered only one for myself. I went back outside to enjoy the beautiful day and my drink while waiting for the other ladies. My first sip was a little disappointing. It tasted very strongly of vodka, which is not a problem by itself, but it didn't taste very much like tomato or spice. And as I went along, it began to taste like watery vodka. Karisa and I went back in for a second round. This time I requested my drink to be spicier. When she handed it to me, I pointed to the giant cup of olives on the bar and requested some of those too. I can confidently say that my second drink was much better. This lady knows what she likes, and she knows how to get it.
They're not kidding about the wait y'all. We were finally called in to our table. I will say, the 40 minute wait went by pretty quickly for me. We were seated and ordered our coffee. I decided on the Cajun Mess at Andrea's recommendation. When my plate came out, it looked like what happens when I try to make an omelette. And that's not a bad thing at all! My meal was andoille sausage, crawfish, peppers, and onions all cooked up in eggs and covered with cheese. It was amazing. The eggs were fluffy, and there was plenty of "stuff" in there. The pieces of crawfish were a little rubbery, but I can forgive that because everything thing else on the plate was cooked perfectly. The potatoes suited my taste. The pieces were large, but they were cooked all the way through and were seasoned well. The dish as a whole was not as spicy as I expected, but the smear of Sriracha on the plate was enough to spice it up to my taste.
Overall, my food was tasty, but I don't quite get why it has become THE brunch place in this town. I feel like I can get an equivalent or better brunch meal for a lot shorter wait. And better Bloody Mary's for less than $8. For all the Richmonders that swear by the Millie's brunch, I invite you to explore some more of the many brunch options in our town. Of course, there is a lot to be said about hanging outside on a beautiful morning, enjoying a drink and chatting with your ladies.
Kathy: I've been to Millie's a handful of times for brunch since moving here, after I'd been told It's A Richmond Institution You Have to Go about as many times as the wait to get in to Millie's is long. Just about as many times I've heard complaints about that long wait (they don't take reservations). Well, I think it's worth it. While we waited outside to be seated, I enjoyed the perfect almost-fall day with mimosa in hand. I'm not a fan of the Richmond style mimosa (in a large glass, over ice), but Millie's is quite charming, so I won't gripe about that. Once inside, I've always enjoyed their eccentric decor and fun atmosphere. Plus, there's a fantastic playlist. The atmosphere is, however, a tad loud and it grew quite warm. During this visit, the menu lacked my favorite item - chorizo (super spicy) with a fried egg and grits. So, I opted for the avocado, tomato, and cheese omelet. The egg was not at all dry, and the omelet was not too cheesy - a pet peeve of mine. Overall, it was delicious, the portions were large, and the well seasoned homefries were tasty. I do wish our waitress had brought out my correct meal first, but once it came, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Food - Good. There were mixed reviews on the potatoes that came as a side. Karisa's were done perfectly to her liking while Andrea's were hard and barely cooked. Good mix of ingredients in the various "messes" - veggie, cajun, and Cuban.
Atmosphere - Good. Be prepared to be cramped, warm, and unable to carry on soft conversations with your dining partner. However, the art is quirky, the music is eclectic and fun, and the outdoor seating is always a bonus. Yay for drinking on the street while you wait for a table!
Service - Fair. She was friendly, but there were several snafus with writing down the wrong order for one of our brunchers and seemingly only bringing bread when she realized that she messed up the order. Coffee refills were also hard to come by. And we had to ask for water
Coffee/Tea - Good. Nothing special or unique.
Mimosa - Fair. First sip wasn't great but it grew on you. Served traditional Richmond-style with ice in a pint glass. Would have gotten a "Good" if it weren't $8. Yikes.
Bloody Mary - Good. Michele's second was better than the first because she asked for the spice factor to be kicked up a notch. She had some srichacha added and got some olives to boot.