There are only a handful of star-quality restaurants I've been to where you can dress casually and not feel shabby. is one of them and offers food lovers and wannabe gourmands that sensually glossy dining experience available in big-name cities and trendy backwaters. Fortunately, Millie's also is in Richmond and it isn't pretending to be someplace else, which means you don't have to square off with superfluous attitude. But its national reputation means you'll probably have to wait for a table: Millie's is no secret, and they don't really take reservations (you can make them only during the first hour of dinner service and only for parties of six or more). Millie's is a multisensory food experience. When you walk in the door you're basically standing in the kitchen, which is open and to the right, and on the night we were there it was alive with the intense energy of a controlled fire. [image-1](Stacy Warner / richmond.com)It was about 8 p.m., the peak of the reasonable-hour dinner crowd, and the place was packed. Two cooks moved with deliberate speed and experienced care, preparing each dish in a flurry of detail and still taking time to answer our questions while we peeked through the stainless shelving, guessed at ingredients and bathed in the air thick and red with the smell of roasted meats, garlic and sautéed mushrooms. Faced with a 45-minute wait for a four-top which estimate turned out to be remarkably accurate and in a food-festive mood we got a bottle of champagne and a menu for advance perusing and sat outside at a table on the sidewalk patio. Millie's turns out a solid assortment of core dishes lamb, shrimp, chicken, salmon, duck for its high-end-diner theme and dresses these dishes with sometimes original embellishments absent any fuss or frill. The result is food that's cozy and dependable delivered in a trend-defying atmosphere of gustatory groove. Eclectic jukebox selections at each booth help keep the energy kinetic. [image-2](Stacy Warner / richmond.com)We found our fit with the slow-braised lamb shank that came to our table with a white bean and shiitake ragout ($19.95), and in the Cajun marinated duck appetizer ($9.95) served with two low-country crawfish friends and herb polenta. Both orders of dry-rubbed pork tenderloin ($20.95) with mashed potatoes and garlic green beans came too pink for our liking and were returned for more time on the grill. But the minor delay and inconvenience were handled by the staff with refreshingly sincere respect, attention and professional understanding. Even if we weren't correct. Other choices include Thai spicy shrimp over linguine tossed around with asparagus, shiitakes, cabbage, lime, cilantro and peanuts, and a Mexican-inspired free-range chicken breast with black bean cake, yellow tomato salsa and mole sauce. The ordinary sounding four-cheese ravioli, which I ordered, was fresh and silky in a brown butter tomato sauce. Desserts aren't a forte, though the crŠme brulée was perfect. The pot de crŠme a chocolate cream set so stiff and rich it's more like fudge is simply too much, and the silver cakes tasted a little carded, as if they had been in the fridge too long. Yet a witness to Millie's strength is that none of these minor nicks ruffled our experience. And they must not happen very often, since the place seems never to be at a loss for
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