Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lunch at MiLa

Ah, lunch. Once our favorite time of the school day, lunch now often consists of an ever-shortening window of time during which we wolf down a $5 footlong in between meetings, phone calls, and TPS reports. The need for speed is one of the many blessings of the work place, and sometimes we are lucky enough to snag a bag of peanuts from the vending machine to hold off starvation before heading home.

But there is lunch, and then there is lunch. The kind of meal where you transport yourself, if only for 60 minutes, to a place where the rest of the world takes a break from the daily hustle and bustle to allow you to enjoy real food, maybe a glass of wine, and some non-work related conversation before getting back to the grind.

At MiLa, such an experience will only run you $20.

Meals at MiLa still begin with the a basket filled with rolls and thin wedges of firm corn bread presented with miniature cast iron skillets of lima bean puree and cold salted butter. Venison pâté, rustic in appearance but elegant in flavor, is served with creole mustard, thinly sliced cornichon and buttery slices of toasted baguette. $10 well spent to supplement the prix fixe.

Soup or salad begins the prix fix. The novelty of butternut squash soup may have long since passed, but the familiarity of the dish does not detract from the worthiness of MiLa's version, which is enriched with spiced crème fraiche and served with crispy shitake chips and lumps of crabmeat bobbing up and down upon the surface. The salad is a simple composition of organic greens, salty Louisiana feta, sunflower seeds for crunch, and a bright lemon vinaigrette.

On to the main events. I ordered the phyllo crusted redfish on my first visit to MiLa, and three years later here it is still, with the thatched roof of phyllo dough providing a nice crunch to the moist fillet underneath. Israeli couscous, wilted and slightly bitter greens, and a sauce of thickened lobster stock rounds out the dish. For the carnivores, braised veal cheeks (which we have seen on a lot of menus lately) atop a puree of fingerling potatoes.

Dessert is a choice between simple pleasures. The omnipresent vanilla bean rice pudding topped with glazed seasonal berries, blue ones in this case, is a dish whose humble connotation as peasant food is wiped away with just one spoonful. It's just plain good. Or maybe a bowl of housemade ice cream - banana on the most recent visit - topped with crunchy almond streusel.

For those who enjoy a glass of wine with their lunch (only on Fridays, of course), the list at MiLa offers a number of bottles in the $30 range. Service, once the Achilles heel of the restaurant, has markedly improved in terms of both polish and speed. On this most recent visit, the lunch hour need only be extended by a few minutes in order to enjoy a 3 course meal from one of the city's most underrated and often forgotten about restaurants.

Lunch at MiLa - Eagle
$20 for 3 Courses
Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm
817 Common Street at the Pere Marquette Hotel
(504) 412-2580

1 comment:

Kimberly Ranjbar said...

I love MiLa! It is easily one of the most worthwhile prix fixe lunches in town.