Back in July we told you that The Mildred, a restaurant from Talula’s Garden’s opening chef Michael Santoro and his college chum Michael Dorris was coming together inside the former home of James in Bella Vista. Now we have word that it’s going to make its debut on Wednesday, September 12. Santoro and Dorris told us the neighborhood spot will have an American focus with an emphasis placed on European sensibilities and classic French techniques. And many dishes will be cooked and served in cast-iron Staub French ovens. “That’s about ninety percent of the dishes we’re serving,” Santoro told Grub Street. “The idea of one pot is kind of the core of the concept.”
With a focus on slow-cooking methods, the menu will feature dishes like a roasted, boneless stuffed quail, braised beef bade with pomme anna, and the signature bouillabaisse for two.
“What we’re trying to do here is provide an element of surprise and an element of comfort,” Dorris explained.
Putting the menu’s prices points below those set by The Mildred’s predecessor was another of the duo’s main objectives. The reason there is to make it more financially accessible for the neighborhood.
“What we heard about James was that it was pretty pricey,” Santoro said. “I think their average check might’ve been around $65 to $70 per guest. This is going to be a neighborhood place, so we’re shooting for about $45.”
The space itself has been re-tooled. In their renovations, Santoro and Dorris moved the restaurant's entrance to where James had its valet box. With relocating the entryway, they also built a small vestibule. They also cut through the dining room’s walls to open the spaces up, make them more continuous and connected to each other, and brighten up the the entire interior. They also scraped the white paint off the bricks in the bar area, and stripped the wood surfaces to their natural tones.
In the bar, they will offer a separate menu, classic cocktails, and a selection of local and craft beers. The wine list will feature selections carefully curated from producers who concern themselves more with the craft than production. Dorris said high acidity wines will dominate, as they pair best with the menu’s bold and rich flavors. Weather permitting, ten seats will be available outside.
The Mildred, 824 South Eighth Street, (267) 687-1600