First Taste at Miller’s Guild

Jason Wilson’s (Crush) new restaurant, Miller’s Guild in the Hotel Max, has officially opened after a couple weeks into a soft launch. I ate dinner there on Friday night as a guest of the press (read: meal was comped and dishes were still being worked out). The restaurant’s nine-foot long custom-made Infierno wood-fired grill is no joke. A huge contraption – part grill, part smoker, and a whole lot of flames – it dominates the open kitchen and is used to cook steaks, ribs, lamb, quail, even octopus. In keeping with the theme, piles of firewood surround you in the lofty, high-ceilinged dining room, as do barrel casks of aging liquors.

My rib-eye with parsley oil was cooked beautifully. My companion’s “Giant” octopus with Bordelaise bone marrow and roasted shallots was also well turned-out, and very redolent of the sea – perhaps a little too much for some.

In a Frisee salad with ancient grains, even large chunks of apples & pears came grilled and a generous smattering of pomegranate seeds on the bottom added nice texture and crunch. Roasted cauliflower with Castelvetrano olives & preserved lemon was served in a hot little skillet and was oily, tart and cheesy.

The grill even has a coal-fired component, and our coal roasted beets were smoky and well-served by some dill, mint and Horseradish cream.

The steak tartare (though the meat itself was fresh and of high quality) didn’t quite go with the Grilled Levain bread. It was much too thick for delicate tartare, and the mustard spread on it killed the flavor of the meat. Likewise, a side of hedgehog mushrooms and greens got entirely swallowed by a balsamic-happy hand.

The cocktail menu here is interesting and makes frequent use of flavored shrubs and bitters; I was happy to see as many vodka, gin and tequila options as whiskey and bourbon combos all at $10. Wines by the glass are pricey, with many in the $13-$15 range (three are from Washington state).

While wood-fired grills are clearly becoming a trend (Ethan Stowell has one at mkt. as does Matt Dillon at Bar Sajor), Miller’s Guild has taken it to a whole new level. Whether you think it’s a gimmick or not, it’s hard to deny the fascination of watching cooks handle huge hunks of meat on open flames. And on a cold night, there’s certainly appeal in being near a fire. Next up, supposedly, is breakfast on the grill. That’s one I’m definitely curious about...

Miller’s Guild joins Aragona and Loulay in recent downtown openings.

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