Philadelphia Restaurant Review: American Eats at The Mildred

At Mildred, chef Michael Santoro is playing with fire through his seasonal american dishes.

It may not generally be wise to judge a restaurant by its logo, but it works for the Mildred. There it hangs, above the quiet 8th Street sidewalk where its predecessor, James, ultimately folded under the weight of high prices and conceptual overreach—that most humble icon of comfort-first cooking, a soot-black Dutch oven.

It has about 200 cousins in Michael Santoro’s kitchen: Staub cast iron skillets and soup-bearing teakettles and enameled cocottes, some for serving, others for cooking, and all of them to remind the former Talula’s Garden head chef of his simpler new mission: Think inside the pot.

Fans of Santoro’s delicately embroidered cooking at Talula’s—and I was one of them—may glimpse a stewy skillet of chicken and biscuits here, or unadorned mounds of oxtail served over pearled barley risotto, and fear an apparent U-turn. But even if no one’s tweezing microgreens onto sheets of asparagus gelée at the Mildred, there’s more to Santoro’s homey cooking here than meets the eye.

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The $35 Challenge: Eat Like It’s Restaurant Week at The Mildred


$35 for three courses sounds like a helluva deal. And that’s what Restaurant Week is built around. But say you want to go somewhere awesome without having to deal with the crowds, the restrictions and the stressed-out wait staffs that are also a part of Restaurant Week. Is that possible?

If you happen to find yourself at The Mildred, Mike Santoro‘s Bella Vista homage to cast-iron cooking, it is almost possible. I mean really, really kinda nearly possible. Like maybe if you borrowed a couple bucks or found a five-spot in your pocket that you forgot was there–then you could totally do it. And here’s how…

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Mildred Now Offering Prix Fixe Sundays with This Oven Roasted Quail

The Mildred is debuting a prix-fixe Sunday Dinner Menu this weekend. Chef Michael Santoro is offering a special three-course prix-fixe menu for $38 per person, every Sunday evening.

The menu which will change often and this weekend will feature

  • Rogout of duck with housemade gnocchi sardi and winter vegetables
  • Casserole of tortellini with roasted sunchokes, broccoli rabe and pickled date
  • Oven roasted quail with braised lentils and beetroot.

See Mike Santoro prepare the oven roasted quail »

Food to Keep the Neighbors Coming Back at the Mildred

Cristina Perachio is the latest to check out the Mildred on 8th Street in Bella Vista. He comes away impressed with the seasonal fall dishes.

The standout of the meal is the braised chicken and biscuits with herbs and vegetables. Healthy chunks of onion, squash, carrot and celery season the chicken, served hot in a skillet. Though this wasn’t the sort of dish I ate growing up, it nonetheless has that comfort-food feeling to it. The biscuits are light and fluffy; where a lesser preparation could have easily seen them get soggy with chicken juices, here they maintain their flakiness and texture. Likewise, the veggies—all too often lackluster in skillet-prepared dishes, or, alternately, swimming in sauce—are perfectly crisp and flavorful. The high-quality local ingredients are part of that excellence, but technique is the rest; the Mildred simply nails veggies.

Seasonal Satisfaction at the Mildred in Bella Vista [Philadelphia Weekly]
The Mildred [Official Site]

The Mildred Filled with Potential

Adam Erace recently visited The Mildred, the new restaurant by former Talula’s Garden chef Michael Santoro. Expecting to find over-the-top plates, he was surprised to find dishes as simple as chicken and biscuits on the menu. However, his did not stop The Mildred from setting a great first impression.

What we’re doing here is more personal, straight-up good cookin’ with less reliance on garnish for garnish’s sake,” says the chef. “The food looks a lot different [from Talula’s], but there’s a thread running through everything I’ve been doing for the past several years: low-temp cooking, marinading, brining, braising, the application of food science, how it affects vegetables, eggs, milk.” In Philly, we don’t have the luxury of having known Santoro for the past several years. We don’t know the Santoro of the Blue Duck in D.C. or the Santoro of the Fat Duck in London or the Santoro of Gilt in New York. All we know is the Santoro of Talula’s Garden, which is why the rustic persona of the Mildred’s menu feels like such a curveball. But what’s happening in the kitchen, behind the scenes, Santoro insists, has always been the same.

Magic Mikes [City Paper]
The Mildred [Official Site]

Photo by Neal Santos

The Mildred Starts Weekend Brunch

The Mildred is launching brunch this weekend. Executive chef and owner Michael Santoro has created a menu capitalizing on the cast-iron cooking techniques he also uses in his dinner offerings. Among the highlights:

  • Baked Sourdough Pancake with Roasted Smokehouse Apples and Bliss Maple Syrup
  • Pan Roasted Hanger Steak & Eggs with Crushed Sweet Potatoes and Chive.

For drinks, general manager and co-owner Michael Dorris has created a beverage menu featuring four variations on the Bloody Mary.

Brunch is offered Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Brunch and drinks menus »

About Last Night: The Mildred

Last night I checked out The Mildred on 8th Street and came away quite impressed. The creamy vitello tonnato, the scallops with roasted carrots and our main courses of quail with braised lentils, rib of beef with a clever parmesan trenne and hanger steak with pleasing potatoes anna were all worth ordering again.

The dining room was bustling, the diners looked happy. Check it out if you haven’t already.

September 26th menu at The Mildred (PDF)

The Mildred [Official Site]

Tale of the Tape: The Mildred

Chefs and friends, Michael Dorris and Michael Santoro are opening The Mildred this evening in Bella Vista. The restaurant will showcase seasonal American cuisine with influences from the pair’s experience in Europe. Santoro will handle the kitchen and Dorris the front of the house. Both are committed to creating a fun and inviting restaurant that welcomes the neighborhood.

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