Milford’s Fish House, 719 N. Monroe
When Salty’s opened last spring, there was some handwringing among fans of Milford’s Fish House.
Could this local institution - now celebrating its 15th anniversary - weather the competition from a flashy Seattlebased seafood chain?
A year later, the answer is a resounding yes. For my money, Milford’s serves the best seafood in Spokane. It deserves points for an ambitious menu, offering at least a dozen fresh seafood selections on the nightly fresh sheet.
For meat eaters, there’s a selection of steaks, Washingtongrown lamb chops and a freerange chicken breast sauteed with wild mushrooms.
During a recent dinner, I sampled the crab-stuffed mushroom appetizer ($4.95 for a half-dozen), which was rich and subtly seasoned. Maybe a tad too subtle. I found myself wishing it had been served with a wedge of lemon to tweak the flavor.
Dinners are served with either a cup of chowder or a salad. Both were appreciated at our table.
Because we were dining on Monday, a slow day for fish delivery, much of the seafood had arrived on the previous Friday, our waiter thoughtfully explained. Though the restaurant has a stateof-the-art refrigeration system, I’m not keen on taking a chance on $17 ahi tuna (the price varies daily) that didn’t arrive that morning.
My second choice was a coho salmon baked on an alder plank ($13.95). The plank is meant to add a smoky flavor to the fish. The coho, which more closely resembles a trout than a salmon, has light pink flesh and a delicate flavor. The boneless, butterflied fish was baked with a mushroom saute and served atop the slab of alder. Unfortunately, the plank was nearing the end of its useful life, so the salmon had no trace of the smokiness. (After each use, it loses a bit of its smoky quality. Owner-chef Jerry Young said he is planning on cutting some fresh planks.)
My companion was impressed with her properly cooked swordfish steak ($16.75), grilled with a maple and peppercorn butter.
It was an altogether enjoyable meal.
There are a few areas, however, in which Milford’s could stand some improvement. The room is so gorgeous - lots of warm-hued wood, great old Spokane memorabilia on the walls - that the lousy sound system really sticks out. The night I ate dinner, “The Big Chill” soundtrack was piped in. Listening to Three Dog Night sing about a bullfrog was bad enough, but it sounded like it was playing on a car radio.
And, if first impressions count for anything, management should eighty-six those tired old curtains that line the outside windows.
Also, the side dishes have always been a letdown. This time, the boiled red potato and carrots were overcooked to the point of mushiness. How about adding a choice of rice or pasta?
Still, these complaints are minor, especially considering the number of things that Milford’s does well.
Call 326-7251 for reservations.