Miller’s Ale House (Christiana, DE)

It was strange to go away to school; it was the first time living somewhere new.  Before moving to Vermont, I’d lived within a five mile radius in the microcosm that is Northern Delaware.  Sure, I watched it change during those eighteen years, but it was different when my hometown kept changing after I left.

No  tragedy was felt quite as much as the local Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse closing; I’d been in love with their baby back ribs for as long as I can remember.  What could possibly fill the hole created by this loss?  The answer, as it turns out, filled not only that hole, but the empty building.

Miller’s Ale House stands there now, filled to the brim with TVs and tap handles.  The large dining room is divided into two smaller rooms, each with a bar and several dining room tables.  The two unequal halves are separated by a real wall set with huge windows, allowing vision of over seventy televisions adorning the walls. Perhaps more spectacular than the plethora of TVs are the rows of tap handles standing proudly behind each bar.  When I worked at Buffalo Wild Wings, we had twenty-two beers on tap; Miller’s has at least twice that (I never got a clear number).  Truly, it’s a beer lover’s paradise—and a paradise for sports lovers besides.  As a server, I shudder to think of the chaos of NFL gamedays within those walls.  However, when I picture it with a beer in my hand, cheering my team on, it seems like much, much more fun.

Beer and atmosphere will only take a restaurant so far, if indeed it wishes to be known as a restaurant.  Miller’s seems to, so despite the stars in my eyes and the suds in my belly, I had to make sure to actually pay attention to the food as I ate it, and I’m sure glad I did.  We began with an order of pork potstickers.  They’re fried (or steamed) and served on a bed of cabbage with a drizzle of tangy plum sauce.  At first I was taken aback by their size; I’m used to dumplings that are one- or two-bite affairs each.  These monsters took me three bites each, but none of those bites were any less interesting than any of the others.  The shell was delightfully crispy at its edges, and the plum sauce went perfectly with the natural flavors of the pork.  I’m not big on cabbage (or much else that’s green), but I wasn’t disappointed to find it inside the potstickers as well.  It added more crunchiness, which made the dumplings more interesting after they left my fork.  I wanted to order more after we ran out, but there were other menu items in need of our attention.

Namely, Miller’s burgers and ribs needed to reveal to us their secrets.  There was much debate over which Zinger sauce my companion should get on his ribs, and we thank our server for letting us sample so many.  He settled on Honey Lime Sriracha, and it was an excellent choice.  They weren’t the Bugaboo ribs of my dreams, but that’s not going to stop me from ordering them next time, particularly since Sweet Thai Chili is on that list.  My burger wasn’t anything all that fancy, topped as it was with cheddar cheese, lettuce, pickles, bacon, and raw onion.  I did get it smothered in medium Zinger sauce, and that made it a party.  When I order a burger, I always say rare, knowing full well that there are usually rules in the kitchen about minimum cook times and the like.  My burger at Miller’s was more like a medium rare to my eye, but lost nothing (flavor, texture, juiciness) because of the extra grill time.  All told, the poor thing didn’t last long.  Neither did the fries; they were seasoned with more than just salt and pepper, much to my delight.

I look forward to my next excuse to go to Miller’s.  Tons of beer and excellent wing sauces are only half the draw, with fun and exciting atmosphere completing the experience.

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