Dish, Mill Valley: Fresh takes on American comfort food

Dish, Mill Valley

The new Tamalpais Commons hotspot, Dish, opened to a full house on June 3. Focused on the Mill Valley golden triad of local-sustainable-organic, Dish offers ethnic\American comfort food, or, more plainly stated, updated American classics from long-time Mill Valley resident and restaurateur, Peter Schumacher of Bungalow 44 and Buckeye Roadhouse fame. Stop in as early as 6:30 for coffee and pastries (breakfast service starts at 7) then drop in at this casual, all ages welcome eatery throughout the day and sate your appetite with a thoughtful range of dishes from salads, soups and small dishes to sandwiches and entrées.

Quality ingredients are the starting point and flavors travel across the globe from grilled eggplant with tzatziki (Mediterranean), to lemongrass chicken soup (Thailand) and ahi with soba and bean sprouts (Japan). Executive Chef Derek Belanger’s menu includes options for special diets, from gluten-free to vegetarian, and all soups and salads can be ordered in small or large to suit a range of appetites.

But Chef Belanger expects locals to want mostly Euro-American flavors and weights the menu with such local favorites as grilled salmon with tarragon, huevos rancheros and tuna melt. Every dish begged for more flavor – Spanish chicken salad tasted timidly of pimentón and sherry vinegar. Shrimp summer rolls were fresh and soft but the sauce was bland. Tuna tartare with plantains lacked the zip inherent to lime vinaigrette. Opening day jitters may be the reason most dishes were under-seasoned. The experienced management and crew will surely smooth out these wrinkles in due course.

The kids menu does not surprise (PB&J, fish sticks, wagon wheels and cheese) but offers a choice in the healthiness quotient of the sides; fries, veggie of the day or fruit. A high chair was brought right away but the child’s meal was served after the adults’. Comfy chairs are perfect for lingering over a glass of wine by the fire but challenge even the most maneuverable stroller. And where to put that stroller once you have the high chair?

With a large stone fireplace and warm, rough-hewn recycled wood throughout, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Families with children are the norm during the day with a shift to a slightly older crowd in the evening. The bar is small and situated with a ringside view of the kitchen. A community table is a great idea but the large screen TV is not needed and feels imposing. Order at the front for lunch, tableside at dinner.

Stop by Dish for a quick bite with the kids or linger over a glass of wine (by the glass, carafe or bottle) and appetizers. Dish offers terrific potential and Marin-reasonable prices. (Small dishes: $5.50 – $11.95, Sandwiches: $7.95-$8.50 and Entrees: $9.75-16.50) It is a welcome addition to the all day Mill Valley dining scene.

Monday – Friday: Coffee/Beverages/Pastries 6:30AM – 9:00PM
Breakfast 7:00AM – 11:00AM | Lunch 11:00AM to 2:30PM | Dinner 5:00PM to 9:00PM
Saturday and Sunday: Coffee/Beverages/Pastries 7:00AM – 9:00PM
Breakfast 7:30AM – 11:30AM | Lunch 11:30AM to 3:30PM | Dinner 5:00PM to 8:30PM
• Cuisine: Fresh takes on American comfort food
• Features: all day food, wi-fi, outdoor seating, fireplace
• Atmosphere: casual fun
• Dress code: Casual