Dining Out: Mill Creek Pub sets itself apart

Battle Ground restaurant’s offering tasty from start to finish

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Why: Mill Creek Pub opened for business Nov. 10 next to the Battle Ground Cinema. Anyone familiar with the former restaurants that occupied the address will find it refreshing to walk in to a new and improved space that doesn’t hold a trace of what had been there before. Owner Russell Brent brings more than just another new restaurant to Clark County. He developed something different using the history of Mill Creek as the foundation from which to build everything from the atmosphere to the menu.

Atmosphere: Reclaimed wood creates a sturdy interior structure, which includes a covered bridge entryway. The main focal point of the restaurant is a 10-foot-high working water wheel which is fed by a flume that comes down from the roof, gently spilling into a reservoir. A few tastefully placed antiques and photos decorate the brick-colored walls and numerous horseshoes are randomly place about. Seating consists of booths around the perimeter and tables and chairs in the open areas. The bar is situated opposite family dining on the other side of the water wheel, which effectively separates the two.

What I tried: My dining companion and I began our meal with the Crab Cake appetizer. I decided on the Home-Style Beef Pot Roast for my entrée and she settled on the Chicken Pot Pie. For dessert I had the Crème Brulee and she had the Hot Fudge Sundae. Since it’s hard for me to pass up a brownie, I took home a Pecan Praline Brownie to sample later.

The crab cake appetizer was accompanied by creole mustard remoulade and a small mixed green salad lightly peppered and drizzled with oil. These were a highlight of our meal. The cakes didn’t hold together very well but the flavor more than made up for it. The exterior had a fried crust that was a little thicker than most crab cakes that I’ve had, and the interior was a colorful mix of ingredients that produced a delicious sweet crab flavor,paired with the creole mustard remoulade, which was slightly tangy. It was a tasty selection to begin our meal with. The small salad was just enough to split between the two crab cakes and provided an alternating flavor for the appetizer.

Of the two entrees, the Home-Style Beef Pot Roast was our favorite. It came with gravy, Yukon gold mashed potatoes and green beans seasoned with garlic, bell peppers and oil.

The meat was roasted to perfection and the portion presented the exterior browned meat, which was still appetizingly moist, and the inner-most meat from the roast, which was juicy and flavorful. The meat was very tender and easy to eat and it was drizzled with gravy that delivered some extra seasoning.

The mashed potatoes were smooth and creamy and the beans were soft. Both were excellent companions for the pot roast.

The Chicken Pot Pie was not so traditional and the pastry was more akin to pizza crust. The filling contained peas, carrots, onions and diced white chicken meat. Thyme and white pepper were very distinguished in the dish. A thin layer of oil pooled on the surface of the crust, which was a bit unsightly. It was very doughy where it came in contact with the filling and dry where it did not.

I found the crème brulee, one of my favorite desserts, to be one of the best I’ve had in Clark County. The sundae was basic. The brownie that I took home varied in texture from cakey to gooey, and it was chocolaty without being too rich. A layer of crushed pecans covered the top and caramel was drizzled over it. Though the brownie was good, it’s certainly a dessert to have in-house where it is served warm with vanilla ice cream.

Other menu highlights beyond what I tried: Exclusive to the restaurant is the Lamb Shank, and Brent suggests that Mill Creek’s Parmesan Prawn Pasta and Grilled Steelhead Caesar Entrée Salad are superior to others’. From the appetizers, the Pretzels with Russell’s Famous Cheese Dip caught my attention. So did the Spinach Dip, which I will try on my next visit for comparison to others I’ve had. The Mill Creek Pub Burger, served on a sesame seed bun with barbecue sauce, garlic mayonnaise, cheddar, pepper bacon, onion rings, lettuce and tomato sounded appetizing, as did the Berry Cobbler from the dessert selection.

Other observations: The waitstaff is polite and attentive. Our food arrived piping hot and quick. Mill Creek Pub would likely be a good dinner-and-movie option.

Cost: Appetizers are $5.95 to $10.25. Starter and entrée salads range from $3.95 to $11.95. Entrées start at $9.95 and top out at $18.95. Burgers and sandwiches are $8.95 and $9.95. A cup of soup is $3.95, a bowl $5.95 and desserts are all $4.95.

Hours: 3 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Noon to 11 p.m. Saturday. Noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Telephone: 360-723-5223.

Where: 1710 S.W.Ninth Ave., Suite 101, Battle Ground, in the Gardner Center.

Health score: Mill Creek Pub received a score of 5 on Dec. 8. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.