Half of our party was recently invited to Milford’s Fish House for an anniversary.
We hadn’t been there in forever.
Funny, that was the universal response we got when we shared our plans.
There is probably a reason for that: It’s definitely a special occasion restaurant.
Milford’s is one of the best in town, and it shows, from the exceptional food to the quality grade stemware, plates and silverware to the attentive, professional waitstaff.
So you pay a little bit more, but the feeling inside Milford’s is first class without being stuffy.
Jerry Young, a chef and one of the owners, said, “This place grew out of respect for the business.”
He had a thing for the finer places in the Bay Area, which he replicated in the now 90-plus-year-old building that was originally the Transfer Market. Milford’s features paneled walls and old pictures and a not overwhelmingly large but impressive menu with an emphasis on fish.
Recently a traveling businessman mentioned he was there at the recommendation of both his hotel and the financial institution where he was working. He said his waitress was as good as any he had ever been served by.
That may be why so many Milford’s customers are regulars or recommendations.
“I think a market ends up with all it deserves and Spokane has what it deserves,” Young said.
Without knowing, and maybe without planning, he was complimenting Spokane because Milford’s has been on the corner of Broadway Avenue and Monroe Street for more than 30 years, surviving a couple of recessions to become an institution.
Our recent visit was like the last one way too long ago. We were impressed with the service, enjoyed the atmosphere and had a tough time deciding what to eat.
While red meat is the signature dish at the other top-end restaurants in the area, Milford’s leads with seafood. Our wives both settled on scallops, while the writers went with Seafood Lisa, a wonderful sautéed dish.
The menu changes daily and doesn’t always include scallops, which aren’t always prepared the same. Our wives are insisting we go back for further discovery.
The meals were delicious and left us all something to take home.
As is normal at Milford’s, our table got a visit from Young.
A couple of years ago the bar was taken out, probably because the owners (the other is Wally Tamura) decided, as they passed 60, they didn’t want drunks hanging around, or more precisely, to hang around drunks themselves.
Young and Tamura only work five days between them.
“What we’re going to do, we’ve already done,” is how Young described it. “Nobody has written the book on how to get out. … Maybe we’ll downsize until we evaporate.”
Once that happens, there will a hole in the local dining scene.
It takes a locally owned business to produce a certain family atmosphere, and not too many in Spokane have done it on the level that Milford’s has.
The owners care about your happiness, they greet you and then they thank you. And they mean it.
“We’ve run this like we think it should be done, like we would enjoy,” Young said.
That makes it sound like the owners of Milford’s would be a lot of fun have dinner with – as long as they were willing to dine in.