On the first visit, a member of the wait staff at the Mill at MacArthur doesn't show, creating chaos on the floor and a noticeable backup in the kitchen. Not a problem. A Lost Coast tangerine ale is consumed from the well-rounded beer list and a vow is made to return.
Next visit, a long wait for a table would have pushed our meal time well into late night. No worries, a Genesee Cream Ale, another vow to return. Third time's a charm, right? No. A power outage. Restaurant is down for the night.
One more beer, one more vow. Things are starting to get comical.
The restaurant is a small place with tables lining every wall. Owned and operated by a former Star-Lite Dining and Lounge manager and current Mojo's owners, the cafe's design shows their experience. Chalkboards announce the beer lists and daily specials. A long bar at the back of the restaurant is comfortable and utilitarian. Dishes are sturdy; silverware is recycled. The menu consists primarily of sandwiches with a few pizza choices and entrees. It's a consistently busy, family-friendly place.
The hummus platter ($7) is perfectly OK. The addition of basil gives freshness to the lumpy chickpea mixture, and the peperoncini, jarred red pepper slices and crumbled feta are welcome and create a colorful presentation. From the all-day breakfast menu, my eggs are adequately scrambled; the sausage is an average diner patty. The potato cake is mushy but has great potential with a little more seasoning and crispness. The Philly cheese steak is average, with a gooey texture that's off-putting but shows effort from the kitchen. Boardwalk fries are excellent in theory but arrive limp without any of the hoped-for crunchiness. Onion rings are bland.
Many families are eating pizza so I try the Four Seasons ($13). Overly cheesed, garlicky and tomato pasty, it has a sweet, doughy crust. Canned artichoke hearts, conch pieces, reconstituted mushrooms and broccoletti sit atop this confused but mostly adequate pie.
But the restaurant has a stellar side. A kickin' chicken sandwich ($8) is lively with spice and creative with the addition of pea shoots. The Angus burger ($9) is cooked to request and the bacon is crispy. The house-made potato chips are the only side that doesn't cost extra and is the best of the offerings, especially with a little more salt.
The children's menu has the old standbys — chicken tenders, personal pizzas, grilled cheeses — all priced at $6. There's a little area designated specifically for the kids with coloring materials and books. Service is jovial and chatty. Desserts are made in-house and the Key lime pie is among the best I've had in Richmond; at two for $1.50, the chocolate-chip cookies are sure to please little ones.
While I don't think the Mill is knocking anyone's socks off, it's a filling and familiar option for neighbors and appears to be meeting a need. S
The Mill on MacArthur
4023 MacArthur Ave.
Open daily 10 a.m.-10 p.m.