Memorial Day weekend at the Hard Rock Cafe at Four Winds New Buffalo donates $1 to charity for every burger you buy and Miller Bakery Cafe is full-time, full-service, world-class.
Prior to Grand Opening at the Miller Bakery Cafe: Jeff and I joined numerous Miller Beach folks at the Miller Bakery Cafe on Friday night and the only answer I have in defense of wildly overeating was that we spent hours doing it. After all, I knew going in that this would be Chef Cheryl Bernacchi's food we would be eating. Even though we toyed with the idea of chicken cordon bleu meatballs with sauce Dijonaise, we ended up with two starters the pork rillette (like a cold pork foie gras) and house made Tater Tots with chipotle aioli. The Tater Tots are a new rising star in the small plate category and they are rich, but you only need a half. The winner of the second course---and the menu features soups, salads and seven small plates, before you even get to the specials, not that we needed to add a light entree--- was a de-construction salad of arugula, spring peas, pancetta, etc. The salad got extra points for inventiveness and a perfect balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
On a side note consider the choices for small plates: grilled, stuffed calamari; scallops with soft polenta; avocado sliders; buison sliders; beef medallions; mushroom, asparagus, asiago polenta and stuffed roast chicken thighs. We were probably wise to not even try. Our friends' friend Russell, who worked at Miller Bakery until the late 1990s, recommended the entree special fresh halibut with an equally fresh vegetable tomato sauce and so that's what two of us ordered. Honestly, I believe the halibut was the best and largest piece of fish I've had in recent memory. The halibut reminded me of a whole grilled fish I split with my brother in Cancun in December.
We did order desserts of course, but not even the best dessert-eater among us, could make much of a dent. The Mallo Bars was amazing to look at and have a spoonful. This consisted of a chocolate ganache over a ridiculously generous wedge of house-made marshmallow on top of a graham cracker crust. This much food requires liquids and the house Chardonnay (Mountainview, $6 per glass) was very good and the decaf coffee was just as good as it has always been---superior---at Miller Bakery. I probably had four or five cups and a good conversation with new owner Jack Strode at the end of the meal.
Jack's been busy getting MBC up, running and open for lunch and dinner every day but Monday. (Hiring the Executive Chef turned out to be kind of a no-brainer.) He's also moved from Chicago to Miller. Jack's mother Diana has been an energetic partner on this enterprise. As a long time resident of the neighborhood who loved the original Miller Bakery I admit that I was worried that the food might not live up to the standard set by Chef Gary Sanders during his 20 years here, but there is no doubt about it: The food and ambiance are as marvelous as ever and lives up to its own reputation of being every bit as luxurious and fun as the best downtown Chicago restaurant.
I could eat there every day and never get bored but I would explode. My advice is look at the menu in advance and plan carefully. That way, you will only have to choose between what you decided and the specials.
Hard Rock Hamburgers are $1 this weekend: As Hard Rock Cafe Four Winds celebrates National Burger Month, $1 from the purchase of any Legendary Burger over Memorial Day weekend will be donated to Miller's Veteran's Center in South Bend. The Miller's Veteran's Center provides a welcoming community that is able to assist with housing, therapy, clothing, and meals, with the goal of helping veterans reintegrate into society.