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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Catering to the nostalgia crowd

Posted By on Wed, Oct 27, 2004 at 12:00 AM

A blast from the past: blue-plate specials, blue suede shoes, photos of Elvis, sliders. “A home-cooked meal at diner prices,” is how Kelly Battaglia describes the restaurant she opened with Jay Quattrocchi this summer. If you are nostalgic for the ’50s, you’ll want to check it out.

The perky interior features a counter that stretches from the front windows to the kitchen with seven red bar stools (the kind you used to twirl around on if you grew up in the ’50s). A black-and-white checkered floor gives the place a crisp, clean look. Fifties bric-a-brac covers every square inch of wall space and hangs from the ceiling; ads from the era may raise an eyebrow — a hot dog and a Coke (in a curvy bottle) for 15 cents; chuck roast 29 cents a pound at the A&P; an ad for Cracker Jack that boasts: “New! Foil wrapped!” Oh boy.

The food is as straightforward as it was at the time. Entrées include meatloaf, barbecued chicken, baked pork chops and roast beef, all under $7 — with a daily special served on a blue plate for $3-$4. Millie’s is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch, so most people are there for eggs and home fries, a sandwich or a hamburger. Buffalo burgers, 98 percent fat-free, are a specialty.

The meatloaf comes with instant mashed potatoes, which can be substituted with American fries that are boiled, sliced and fried on a grill — the real thing and very good. Three slices of meatloaf, with bits of green pepper and lots of gravy, make a hearty meal. It’s amazing the extent to which Battaglia and Quattrocchi bring the ’50s back to life — entrées with instant mashed potatoes were served all too often back in the day.

My teenager ordered a roast beef and melted cheese sandwich called “French dip” because it came on a baguette (of sorts) with a bowl of beef broth to dip the sandwich in. Other sandwiches include Slim Jim (grilled ham and cheese) and a grilled chicken salad sandwich.

Two soups are made daily. The corn chowder was nice and thick, gently spiced, with big coins of carrot and chunks of potato. Chili is homemade and available daily. The french fries taste like they come from the freezer.

For breakfast, two scrambled eggs with American fries, toast and two slices of bacon were as good as they are anywhere. There’s an option called “Big Bopper” for $4.50 that comes with three eggs, bacon, sausage and ham. The French toast was disappointing, dry and flaccid.

When Millie’s shines is at dessert time. Cakes, pies, cookies and brownies are made by Rae Shonk, a friend of the owners. A slice of banana cake was humongous, moist, chunky, with walnuts and topped with a buttercream frosting. “Nutty dream” cookies are enormous and, in addition to nuts, feature chocolate chips.

On a Sunday morning, Millie’s was a congenial place. Quattrocchi announced that she and Battaglia had watched Fahrenheit 9/11 the night before and “it got my attention.” Quattrocchi says she was especially disturbed by the ties between the Bush and bin Laden families. A table of four chimed in with their opinion of Michael Moore: “He’s biased.” Then one said, “Well, Sylvia Browne says Bush is going to win.”

“Who is Sylvia Browne?” I asked.

“A renowned psychic,” Quattrocchi answered.

“You guys are trashing Michael Moore, but you’ll take a psychic’s word?” I asked. Everyone laughed and the talk turned to sports.

Elissa Karg dines for Metro Times. E-mail


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