I quite like the interior at Model Milk – it’s cozy, comfortable, modern and fresh – all at the same time. It’s got multiple levels so it doesn’t feel too crowded. That being said, looking down at the main floor from our seats in the loft, there were some tables below that seemed way too close together for my comfort. Upstairs, the record player pumps out tunes. Interestingly, when a record stops, someone actually has to come flip it over or put on a new one so that the restaurant isn’t quiet for too long. I’m sure some of their staff are too young to even have listened to a record player back ‘in the good ‘ol days’!
This was our first time at Model Milk, although it’s been on our wishlists for a long time. The three of us each got an appetizer and a main dish. We always taste each others food so we can experience more than just what we ordered. Apparently the menu changes often. We were served menu #000182.
As an appetizer I got the Olson’s High Country Bison Tartare with pistachio, romaine, horseradish and seed bread. It was very smoky. The seed bread was thinly sliced and there was a perfect amount of the bread for amount of tartare. The sauces on the plate were colourful, and made a nice plating, but I didn’t think they really added much to the tartare. I’ve had both better and worse tartare, so I won’t say it was my absolute favourite.
One friend ordered the Shrimp & Grits. We all thought the grits were the best dish out of the three appies. They were creamy and cheesy; they tasted like a bowl full of comfort.
One friend had the Fricassee of Calamari. It was spicy and full of flavour, but too salty. My friend actually told the server it was too salty for her liking and they remade it with less salt. I tried it after the remake and it was definitely better – you could taste more of the flavours rather than having an overpowering burn in the mouth. I think it was the manager who came over after the remake and made sure that it was better for my friend – a nice touch. If you’re okay with salty dishes and like some spice, it was a good dish.
We all got something different for dinner too. One of us got the Alberta Beef with chimichurri, maitake mushroom, and carrots. I had a slice of the steak (cooked medium rare) to taste it and I thought it was chewy. However, whatever that orange sauce was on the side was super yummy. I thought it was cute how the scored the mushroom to look like a pineapple.
My other friend doesn’t eat much red meat, so she ordered the Rocky Mountain Steelhead with brussel sprouts, rosemary and Salt Spring mussels. The trout was well cooked and moist; quite enjoyable. The brussel sprouts were cooked well, and lightly seasoned (not charred like so many places do these days). I thought the sauce on the plate was okay, but my friend hardly touched it. I think it was mostly there to fill up space on the plate. There were no carbs with the dish, so it really wasn’t very filling. Carmela ordered the dish because of the mussels. And I do note, the menu said mussels (plural). As you can see in the photo, she got 1 mussel. ONE. She called it her happy ending, and saved it for last. For $36 I have to say this dish was not worth the price.
I ordered the Broek Acres Roasted Pork with white hominy, mole, acorn squash and pumpkin seeds. The menu said ‘roasted pork’ so I thought it would be pork tenderloin… but I got pork belly. I don’t often order belly because I don’t like eating fat. If I knew it was going to be pork belly I wouldn’t have ordered this dish. There were two cuts of pork belly – a thin one and a thicker one. I don’t know anything about pork belly, but I’m sure I’ve never had the thinner one before. It was more ham-like, while the meaty part of the larger pieces were more tenderloin like. The top of the larger pieces were super crispy… but it was actually so crispy I couldn’t cut it with my knife. Seriously. I had to cut the bottom meaty part in half and then eat the whole top crust with half of a bottom piece (a full piece was too big for my mouth). But, eating the hard crust was not enjoyable on my sensitive teeth. I found the acorn squash to be bitter. The white hominy had good flavour and a typical chewy texture. The mole was good; not terribly strong like a typical Mexican mole. It was quite enjoyable and went well with the pork. I have to say, the dish was beautifully plated.
For dessert two of us shared the politically incorrect Fat Kid Cake. I wish I took a photo of the menu description. It was a beet cake, with cream cheese icing and toasted marshmellow on top. OMG. It was super delicious and the best dish of the evening. It wasn’t too sweet, and the textures were perfect (except the toasted marshmellow stuck to my teeth). The serving was quite large – definitely enough for two people to share. The homemade ice cream was amazing – so smooth and creamy. I would highly recommend trying this cake for sure.
Overall, I’m torn. I really like the atmosphere; the restaurant has a neat vibe. Service was pretty good, and I like that you can see into the kitchen from upstairs. It sure would be neat to have a seat at the kitchen bar and watch them work a dinner service. I know this restaurant gets lots of great reviews, and I can see why. But, I was extremely disappointed that I ordered roasted pork and got pork belly, and that my friend only got one mussel when she was expecting ‘mussels’. The menu has to accurately reflect what people are going to be served. I’ll be back, but there are so many other places on my wishlist it will be a while before I return.