On the Road
The chef-driven Millie's Restaurant in Daytona Beach Shores delivers impressive fare.
Tootling over to the East Coast the other day, we discovered a little lunchtime gem in the unlikely neighborhood of Daytona Beach Shores. Surrounded by pizza joints, IHOPs and ice cream parlors (okay, the homemade treats at Cow Licks are pretty good), this oceanside stretch of barrier island south of Daytona proper has had, to my knowledge, only one destination restaurant, the creditable Azure at the Shores Resort.
But looking for a spot to meet friends, the name Millie’s Restaurant came up, and a surprising find it is, a scratch, chef-driven eatery along the South Atlantic Avenue main drag, dressed in pastel shades and open less than six months. My fish sandwich, grilled sheepshead caught the day before off New Smyrna Beach, delivered whole by Captain Mike and fileted to order, was one of the better lunches I’ve had in a while, served with house-made potato chips crispy and generous.
Owners Chris Chibbaro and his wife, Amy, live in the neighborhood and put great store in supporting local suppliers. The 50-seater has an intriguing menu, from deep fried pork belly over Geechie Boy cheddar grits from South Carolina, chicken from Osteen’s Azalea Farms and produce via Tomazin Farms in Samsula, to house-made sausage and sweet potato buttermilk biscuits. Florida gator ribs and a damn fine bit of rustic mashed potatoes make an appearance. Chef Jeremy Wimmer is Jacksonville educated and has cooked in Vero Beach, Seattle and Hawaii.
Sandwiched between Bruno’s Pizza (not to be confused with our beloved Pizza Bruno) and the Family Spot t-shirt shop, Millie’s could be easily overlooked. Don’t.
* An interesting local food and charity event, Taste4Toolbox, takes over the at the Winter Park Civic Center on March 8. The organization provides culinary training for women who have survived domestic violence, addiction or human trafficking. Feeding the masses will be Kathleen Blake (Rusty Spoon), Kevin Fonzo, Greg Richie (Soco) and John Rivers (4 Rivers Smokehouse), along with treats from Peterbrooke Chocolatiers, Valhalla Bakery and Se7en Bites.
* One of the biggest charity/food combos of the year is the Heart of Florida United Way Chef’s Gala on April 14 at Disney's Epcot World Showplace. Restaurants such as Primo, Bull & Bear, and Disney property standouts like Flying Fish, Jiko, Morimoto Asia, Tiffins and more than a dozen others will represent to aid the United Way’s campaigns.
* Reading Between the Wines, a benefit for the Adult Literacy League, holds its 11th annual shindig on April 25. Providing classes and tutors for reading, writing, and English literacy skills, ALL will spotlights literature while hosting New York Times best seller Brad Meltzer in the company of 1921 by Norman Van Aken, 4 Rivers Smokehouse, Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Kitchen, Olde Hearth Bread Company, The Palm Restaurant, Raglan Road Irish Pub, Swine & Sons and Urban Tide.
* Speaking of Raglan Road, the Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival fills Disney Springs with the sounds of a cracking céilí March 16-18. Lunch, brunch and dinner menus are alive with Irish traditional dishes (but no green beer), along with a host of bands flown in from Ireland, including the U2 tribute band, Elevation.
Got some tips for dining around Orlando? A question about the best places for your favorite food? Send me a note. Stay in touch at email@example.com and access a comprehensive list of my print and online reviews here!