Milestone (Glenmont) – April 2012 (dt)
6.16 – 7.8, 6.5, 6.5, 6, 6, 6, 5.5, 5

.......
......
The Teators had thrown a bit of a curve, leaving the house at six, prompting the others to assume we had reservations at seven. Forty minutes into the ride, with a left directional blaring to cross traffic onto Frontage Rd, the fearless band of eight turned, six of them more than skeptical, but we had arrived.
               The Mastrantuono family, known for a decade’s stint as owners of Sophia’s Restaurant in Greenville, fostered the culinary talents of young Mike, now the chef of Milestone. The Teators had known Lou and Mike from the Cairo gym, and so it felt like long-time acquaintances meeting up again.
               We commented that the restaurant’s location is a contradiction of well-trafficked and, at the same time, hidden, with excellent accessibility for travelers of Rts 32 and 9W, but hidden in the mishmash of the nondescript building fronts that comprise Frontage Road. The fact that Milestone was the former Stone Ends, a well known upscale restaurant, is such ancient history that only our generation remembers it, and then mostly not.
               We dashed through a getting-ready-to-pelt rain, the first we could remember in nearly a month, through a corridor to the service counter, met Lou, turned left into the main dining room, one of the more distinctive dining spaces in the area. Approximately a 40’x40’ cavern, two sides are bluestone, ceiling to floor, sculpted with the recessed lighting so every layer of rock is delineated. The front has two grandly large casement windows with vista views of traffic and light, with two long and tall windows dividing each of the stone walls. (Meanwhile, there is another room, almost as large, holding the bar, more seating, and a stage for music.)

The menu is classic American cuisine, with a heavy scent of an Italian touch, with room for many preferences. This evening, we selected:
> pork osso buco, with mushroom risotto, bits of arugula, a touch of white truffle (Don: a first-time ever order, a delicious and mouth-melting cut; risotto a bit dry but interestingly earthy; a very good experiment and would do again)
> seared sea scallops, dusted with smoky paprika, pinned to a risotto cake, drizzled with beurre blanc, accompanied with bacon lardon and asparagus (Deb T: of course; the small portion choice of three scallops; rated one of her top scallops)
> 12 oz strip steak, with a baked potato and grilled vegetables (Kriss: well-done, as always; average-ly good)
> grilled salmon, cilantro , soy, ginger and a healthy dose of sesame seeds; baked potato and grilled vegetables (KEN—our steak person!: one of his first-ever selections with DP8, very good ...)
> frutti di mare – shrimp  & scallops & calamari & mussels, in a homemade marinara, over fettucini (Judy: so-so, a bit dry, cold food; and Chay, mediocre, sticky pasta; 2 shrimp, 2 scallops, 6 mussels – meal is overpriced)
> carbonara, with bacon lardon, sweet peas, pecorino romano, garlic & shallots, all tossed in cream and fettucini (Deb K: pasta a little pasty but likes it that way; very good)
> chicken francaise, lightly breaded, lemon-butter sauce (Tim: a very good meal, with light cheese sprinkle frites, large portion of spinach that Judy deemed excellent)

For starters:
> the house salad, ordered with the entrée, with a mix of greens, slivers and small chunks of onion, red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, with a few croutons, with the sun-dried tomato dressing catching the attention of a few; a good basic salad (Don, Ken, Judy)
> Caesar salad, advertised as romaine but the eaters saw mostly iceberg, homemade dressing, croutons, advertised as shaved pecorino but the consumers felt there was precious little; one of the weakest Caesars ever ordered (Chay, Kriss)
> fried encrusted goat cheese, with strawberries, and greens similar to the house salad (Deb K & Deb T was heard moaning in appreciation)

The dessert menu, although it felt limited, listed enough to satisfy a range. The addition of two specials attracted three of us:
> pecan pie special (Ken: not to his liking, who was expecting a Grandma’s style pie; a unique round six inch pie. Ken asked for vanilla, got hazelnut gelato instead; wasn’t impressed with either, and perhaps one of the worst pecan pies he’s had; Kriss kinda agreed)
> chocolate praline cake special, with dense cake, chunks of praline, a Grenache coating, drizzle of caramel (Don: very good chocolate dessert, a tad dry but tasty; & Deb K, who was given another chance to moan – I think she liked it)
> butterscotch white chocolate crème brûlée (Deb: different tasting but loved it; Judy: ok, a bit sweet for her tastes)
> and a Sambuca on the rocks for Chay

Beginning it all was the delivery of a large basket of sliced Italian baguette, accompanied by two plates of olive oil, accompanied by herbs and chopped nuts – a tasty start.

Service, by Lisa, was good, attentive, efficient, especially with delivery when two or three staff would deliver. Thank you, Lisa.
               The service off-notes might have been slight – a mix-up with Tim’s dinner sides, and requests for cheese for the pasta, ketchup for fries, a bowl for the mussels shells. Otherwise, water glasses, for the most part, were filled often (and we drank a lot of water this evening, more than usual, it seemed from my seat). And Ken was pleased with a coffee mug that was three times larger than most we have seen!
               Pacing drew considerable attention. We often maintain that we a three hour meal is desirable; however, it was clear that most of us, this evening, felt these three hours overstretched.
               The fifteen minute mark saw the bread basket come out, the half-hour mark for the drink order, sixty minutes for salads, ninety minutes for entrées. After-entrée pacing seemed acceptable to most of us but a few felt the lull before dessert was long also. Too long, or were we just itchy this evening?
               Our drink menu contained two diet sodas, a split of sparkling wine, and two bottles of Massimo 2010 Rioja—a pleasant wine for dinner.

Other notes about Milestone:
               The interior is such a striking element – not sure if the stone is cold, or strong, but it is seldom seen elsewhere, and commands attention.
               About fifteen tables fill the floor, with round tables anchoring the three available corners (the entryway taking the fourth). We were placed at one of the round tables by the windows, affording unique views, depending on placement at the table. I faced the window, so I saw the auto traffic, while Chay, opposite me, saw the human traffic toward the bar area.
               
Tables were elegantly set, with white linen top, and white linen napkin holding a knife, dinner fork, and salad fork, set next to a white square plate (against the granite gray of the wall). Large water glasses awaited, filled five minutes after seating. Wooden chairs, sturdy, held a large comfortably cushioned seat.
               Overhead, the front roof/ceiling line slopes ten degrees upward toward the back; the back half of the room is ceilinged with a raised level, the building’s second floor. Three large, dark, and parallel beams divided the ceiling space, matched in color by the ceiling and flooring material.
               Noise level was on the high side, with the piped in music medium loud, and we happened to be sitting near one of the speakers. (However, a few mentioned our area seemed to be quiet!) A modern-ish jazz and “cool” pop filled the air, if, in fact, one noticed. Another round table seemed to be having as much fun as we were, meaning, just as noisy.
               Another distinctive feature of the restaurant is its plate-ware. The white square solid plates were the first evidence, matching the whiteness of the linen. Then, some of the salads, and some of the entrées, arrived in a white bowl, with an off-set base, leading to a feeling of unbalance, but interesting nonetheless. The only difficulty I had was setting the knife on the “plate” edge, something I was successful with for about thirty seconds.
               ... A visit to the bar/lounge area led to the music of the evening – a Russian pianist, who seemed to have drawn a sizeable audience in very comfortable surroundings. ...

The final bill came to $115 per couple, a medium-high average lately, perhaps a speck higher than a few of us were expecting. Entrée prices ran from the upper end of $30 to most in the low-mid $20s, with smaller plates in the mid-teens, and burgers and such nearly $10, and salads extra.
               We bid adieu and tried to dodge the major puddles on the way to the car and trekked the 25 miles back to Freehold.

Starting the evening was the gathering at the Teator house. Arranged was the usual medley of hors d’oeuvres of a broccoli-cauliflower-sweet pea plate with dip; three kinds of crackers and three kinds of cheese; pretzels; grapes; almonds. A dozen TGIF wings with dipping sauce rounded out the supply.
               Drinks included some seltzer; a white zin for Kriss (I have a “Kriss section” in my refrig!); a Vouvray for the white drinkers; a Douro and Bordeaux for the red drinkers; and no takers for milk!
               Discussion topics at the house, in the cars, at the restaurant, ran the gamut but the number one topic, as expected, was Tim and Judy’s three month, winter-long RV trip to Florida, Texas, Nawlins, and more. Places seen, living conditions, foods eaten, stops in DC, interesting and/or unique people constituted a good segment of the banter. The very recent purchase of a new and improved RV added to the content, raising speculation where the next trips might be, if the RV was available for DP8 dinner trips, what the improvements were, etc. So, Tim and Judy, if you were wondering if we missed you, you found out tonight.
               Which led to more discussion about the existence of DP8, with one more retirement soon to happen in a couple months, with her spouse’s retirement in a few months also or in January, depending on who ..., and their travel plans, leaving the two youngest whippersnappers of the group long-faced about working after the other six of us have retired. We tried to reassure them that working is “good for ya” and exactly what they should be doing.
               Which led to our immediate dinner schedule – six months in advance, with only a couple days possible some months.
               Some of the other topics: a new roof needed for the Karnes’ house, much before warranty is up, costs, warranties, prices, high prices, very high prices, etc.; Kalli and his strength, nearly enough to drag Deb K along in cartoon fashion if she is not careful; Monet and Jackson, and Deb had a photo of Jackson almost touching noses with a cow; Nathan’s house addition; Deb T’s foot cast and her resting of it, or not; and
               a big topic, at the house, and on the ride up was C-D school affairs, budget, administrative changes, cuts in teaching staff, sucky morale, closing of Durham, ... leadership ..., treatment of long-time service providers (Tommy Rogers), givebacks, and a ton more; and
               the Monteverd offspring and where they are; the first cutting of grass; the near drought that should be ending these next couple of days; “tip” giving; Judy’s stick-shifting ...; macerated fruit; play tickets that Ken had to retrieve; $300 replacement keys; Hawaii; Jersey Boys; inviting subs to the summer meeting, or even them hosting the meeting; ...; and more topics than a pen can capture.