Rustic and refined, The Mill delivers exceptional dining (PHOTOS)

The Mill, in downtown St. Petersburg and South Tampa, are exceptional dining experiences. The menu is filled with a collection of small plates, perfect for sharing. The food is both rustic and refined, combining accessible ingredients with exotic accompaniments to create dishes you won’t find anywhere else. Chef Ted Dorsey leans on his formal training, and years of local experience, to lead a team of kitchen, and service, professionals dedicated to the art of hospitality.

Cocktails provide an introduction to exotic ingredients that infuse the dining experience. Spicy Reposado Tequila, and smoked jalapeno agave, give a kick to the Tahona cocktail, while another, Nectar of the Gods, is created with gin, tamarind, simple syrup and lemon. Both drinks offer unique flavor profiles and beautiful presentations. Pairing any of The Mill’s cocktails with a bespoke cheese and charcuterie tray is a great way to start. A selection of cheese and accouterments, including lavash, local honeycomb, caramelized garlic and bitter chocolate are the starting point. Then, customers may select from a variety of house-brined and smoked bacon including duck, lamb, octopus and Canadian-style gator. After that, choose from a selection of vegetables, including fried caulilini and roasted turnips. There are no bad combinations, so pick whatever you want and be sure to add a grilled avocado. As you bite into the creamy avocado, you get the taste of sweet/salty bacon praline, then a bright burst of lemon marmalade explodes on your tongue. It’s the full range of taste, and texture, all in one bite.

And that’s the signature of the Mill. The dishes, in complimenting layers, with surprising ingredients like pound cake croutons on the Roasted Beet Panzanella Salad.  Here, horseradish vinaigrette adds a flavorful twist making it both a tasty and visual treat. In another example of surprising ingredients, a crusty slice of rustic bread is topped with whipped feta cheese, and diced watermelon, for a fresh take on bruschetta. But again, Dorsey doesn’t just stop there. He sprinkles a little smoked pistachio brittle, and drizzles Anejo agave syrup, over it. The subtle and unexpected crunch of the brittle and sweetness of the syrup bring every taste bud to life. The Mill’s Yellowfin Tuna Poke defines perfection. For this dish, you can build each bite in layers yourself. Start with a crisp wonton wrapper for the base,  then spread the fresh tuna poke through the ponzu smear. Layer it on the wonton, top with the wakame salad and finish it with a kiss of the spicy aioli. Your reward is a mouthful of texture and taste, perfectly complimented and satisfying. 

The menu is a constellation of delicious salads, sliders, seafood and meats, all dressed up with thoughtful accompaniments. For instance, seared grouper cheeks sit on top of a tomatillo-lychee salsa studded with a diced jalapeno. A little sweet pepper jam and a thin, crispy slice of lotus root complete the plate. It’s an exotic dish, featuring local fish, with a beautiful, and dramatic, presentation. The fried green tomatoes are dressed in panko, making sure every bite is crisp. Then they are topped with pimento cheese, and a housemade bacon jam, so good that if I could make it at home, I’d spread it on everything. 

One dish not to be missed is a spoof on chicken wings, called Pigs Can Fly. These “wings” are actually pork shanks, about the size of jumbo chicken wings. They are crispy and slathered in a white barbecue sauce. This is the same chicken wing street you’ve been driving down for years, but you just took a game-changing U-turn. The meat is crispy, lean and tender. It falls off the bone, and mayonnaise horseradish sauce cuts right through the richness.

For dessert, try the 3’s Company. It’s a selection of three mini desserts on one plate. It includes a chocolate letterbox filled with strawberry and macadamia nuts, a chocolate tuile filled with lemon mascarpone cream, sitting on a peach coulis and a blueberry tart. It’s perfect for sharing. The Wild Turkey panna cotta, on the other hand, is one dessert you might not want to share. The rich, creamy panna cotta sits on a brownie base and swims in a pool of sea salt caramel. The flavors of the bourbon, chocolate and caramel complement each other so well. ♦

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