I’ve been fleeing to Florida quite a bit this winter. Because, as I get older and continue to work harder, I appreciate any chance for warmth and relaxation.
Growing up on the beach outside St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida, I never really appreciated that my bedroom window looked out onto the ocean, with a boat and pool at my disposal. I rolled my eyes when my Mom was unfailingly excited every time dolphins swam by our dock. Nowadays, I am oh-so-appreciative of my home town, and equally gleeful at the sight of a porpoise. I guess we do turn into our parents.
And, much like my mother, I now appreciate the colorful beach bars and edgy dive bars—they’re far from the posh spots this city girl normally frequents, but they’re really fun. My hometown of downtown St. Petersburg is experiencing a renaissance, with cute restaurants, coffee roasters, and breweries lining Central Avenue. On a recent jaunt home, I decided to check out the brunch scene.
My brunch date was Brittney Ann, a fellow Florida girl, D.C. blogger, and brunette. Not to mention the double name. Usually, when Brittney and I meet for a meal, the waitress will ask if we’re sisters, given our similar dark, long-haired curls and pulled-together ensembles, iPhone in hand.
The vibe at the Mill goes well with downtown St. Petersburg, which has a relaxed, edgy vibe. Central Avenue is lined with dive bars, beer gardens, breweries, tattoo parlors, and live music venues that skew toward rock and reggae. Its young residents tend to be relaxed, hip, and tattooed. This is certainly not a preppy, Palm Beach type of vibe. We were seated outside at a wooden table with metallic chairs. Inside, the scene is dark and masculine, with a long wooden bar. And, the place was packed, even at our late brunch hour of 1 p.m.
The Mill has a great cocktail list, but no menu for its brunch cocktails, for that you must depend on your server. There’s a classic mimosa, and a classic Bellini, both of which are delightful. In the name of research, we both had several rounds, working our way from mimosas to Bellinis to the more inventive options for the third round. It was quite the adventure in bubbly.
Our waitress was a cute, friendly, young gal who was helpful in our decisions with the menu. We appreciated that the Mill offers a wide selection of creative mimosas concoctions, plus an inventive menu that includes lunch options like sandwiches and salads as well as around 20 unique brunch dishes.
Brittney Ann, who is gluten-free, opted for the baked eggs. Served in a skillet, these delicious eggs were seasoned with tomato jam, spinach, fennel, and Parmesan, and served atop a Southern grit cake, which added a great texture. The dish was packed with flavor, and really well executed. The baked eggs were served with a classic Southern biscuit, but Brittney opted to leave it out, given the gluten.
Meanwhile, I ordered the classic plate of three eggs, prepared your way, with either bacon or sausage, hash browns, and toast or a biscuit. The eggs were served over medium, just as I requested, and perfectly done. The bacon was a bit too oily for my liking, but covered in a peppercorn and had a nice flavor. The hash browns, however, were phenomenal. These chunks of roasted potatoes were served with roasted red peppers and a red pepper aioli that kicked it up a notch in the best possible way.
Now, let’s talk about this biscuit. The enormous, moist, and dense biscuit was just as they should be—and I dipped enormous chunks of it into the accompanying honey. Having spent a good bit of time in North Carolina, I know my biscuits, and this was top-notch.
The menu offered quite an interesting selection of carbohydrates, like a sunflower and chia buckwheat cake; and yam cakes served with Sorghum butter, espresso crumble, and carrot cinnamon hay. We decided on banana bread French toast, as it sounded the most decadent. The dish was four enormous slices of thick, baked banana bread, topped with a rum raisin compote, candied pineapple, sweet coconut, and a fresh Chantilly cream. The banana bread was quite thick and dense, and fairly moist, but it could have been a bit more flavorful. I slathered each bite in the whipped cream, which added the necessary moisture and sweetness that the bread was lacking.
The Bitches say: A. Affordable, hearty, and creative food. Low key vibes. Great service, a killer outdoor patio, and lovely, light and cheap mimosas. Thanks for making my hometown brunch Bitch-approved!
200 Central Aven. #100
St. Petersburg, FL.
The Mill serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 10 a.m.