(Steven Lane/The Columbian)
Why: Mill City Brew Werks is the newest restaurant addition to old town Camas. The restaurant adds yet another facet to the already diverse, and plentiful, dining options within the span of just a few blocks of the revitalized roots of the mill city.
Paired with the brew house’s creations is a straightforward menu that offers a range of flavors from basic chicken wings to fish and chips made with albacore.
Atmosphere: Functional meets trendy in the one-room restaurant. The space is arranged in a multipurpose fashion that provides a bar, a living room-style lounge area, and table and counter dining.
Colors are warm and inviting. Large windows wrap around the street sides of the space, allowing in lot of natural light. Additional lighting comes from track halogen and pendant fixtures. Sections of stacked rock add substance to perimeter walls and wood laminate flooring provides a homey foundation and a pleasant upgrade from typical stained concrete that is often left to suffice. An atrium allows a view to the brewery below.
With the focus on the brew and the inclusion of big screen TVs for entertainment, the vibe could have easily turned out to be that of a sports bar. But obvious care was taken to avoid this and to instead create an environment where the whole family feels welcome. Mill City has the character of a next generation pub.
What I tried: From the appetizers, my dining companions and I decided on Fran’s Famous Scotch Eggs and the hot artichoke dip. I had the portobello burger from the Mill City specials for my entree. My dining companions tried the albacore fish and chips, the ranch BBQ burger, and the Mill City lamb burger. For dessert, we had strawberry shortcake.
Though the menu description of Fran’s Famous Scotch Eggs didn’t sound entirely appetizing, it was so original we had to give it a try — and we were glad we did. This dish begins with a hardboiled egg, which is then surrounded by a thick, crispy, deep-fried crust of panko-breaded sausage. Stone ground mustard is served alongside as well as a portion of baby arugula — both of which complement the egg and sausage creation for a scrumptious result. A must try.
Conversely, the hot artichoke dip was somewhat plain. Although the texture was appealing and easy to spread on the flat bread served with it, given its name, the expectation was artichoke flavor. Artichokes were sparsely included and hard to distinguish amid the cream cheese that dominated.
Of the entrees, the albacore fish and chips was the most noteworthy. I am not aware of any other restaurant in Clark County that uses albacore for fish and chips. The fish portion was a bit smaller than many fish and chips I’ve ordered. The coating on the fish was light and crispy and the fish was firmer and retained much less oil than more popularly used halibut and cod.
The lamb burger was topped with baby spinach, goat cheese, and white truffle mint pesto. It was juicy, sweet and very filling.
The ranch BBQ burger was topped with bacon, housemade ranch barbecue sauce, Tillamook sharp white cheddar cheese, and a horseradish aioli. My dining companion noted that the burger was comparable to other barbecue burger versions he has tried.
I found the portobello burger a delicious alternative to a beef burger. I did, however, opt to eat it open-faced because the buns used for the burgers are tall and airy — too much bread for a “mushroom patty.” I asked that the onions be left off the burger, but it arrived with onions. This was easy to remedy by just scraping them off.
The strawberry shortcake was a delectable finish to our meal. Mill City’s version is near the top of my list of favorites of this classic dessert. Two generous slices of sweet spongy cake are topped with fresh strawberries that have been drenched in strawberry sauce. A giant dollop of genuine whipped cream rests alongside to dredge every delicious bite through. Ah, summertime at last.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Present brew selections on tap include: Alpha Ale IPA, Fromudder Milk Stout (Nitro), P St. Citra Pale Ale, PG-13 Nelson Hop IPA, Zech Family Bavarian Hefe, Genesis Cream Porter, Sister Ana’s Scottish Ale, and Red Beard.
The 98607 Burger, made with a half pound of ground chuck, Black Forest ham, a fried egg, bacon and Tillamook cheese, has become an instant success with regular diners.
The Mill City mac and cheese entree, composed of pasta, Italian sausage, crimini mushrooms, diced tomato and a four-cheese cream sauce, sounded intriguing.
Other observations: The service was friendly, attentive and casual.
Mill City Brew Werks is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. It offers a place to enjoy the results of local brewing talents and tasty food. If you arrive during popular meal hours, expect a crowd.
Cost: Appetizers are $4.50 to $8.95. Panini and burgers range from $9.95 to $11.95. Salads are $8 and $9. Entrees are $9.95 and $14.95. Kids 10 and younger get a kid-size entree plus a choice of a side salad, fries or carrots with ranch dressing, a beverage, and a scoop of ice cream for $6.95.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
Where: 339 N.E. Cedar St., Camas.
Health score: Mill City Brew Werks has received a pre-opening inspection and is scheduled for a routine inspection in the near future. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.