An investor friend in NYC owns stock in Miller’s Ale House and several times she’s encouraged me to visit a local pub/restaurant, so it was serendipitous when I was invited to visit Miller’s based on a press release: “Miller’s Ale House Honors Civil Servants and Guests with the All-American Summer Fest Menu.”
Before accepting the invite, I did what many social media savvy friends do: I asked one of my Facebook groups for comments. Predictably, craft beer lovers responded within minutes with wide-ranging response: “OMG…. now I have a craving for their Zingers ;” “mediocre craft beer choices… nothing local;” “all depends on the night you visit” and others.
I chose the Lakeland Ale House (Florida) location and invited a friend to join me on a Monday evening in late June, not knowing what to really expect (as I’ve stated before, I won’t post a bad review – there’s just too many variables if it’s an off night.) It wasn’t overly crowded (I was glad) but on a Monday night during football season I’d bet they are full (flat screens were everywhere.)
Overall, I was DULY IMPRESSED by the experience at Miller’s Ale House, and I’ll definitely visit another location in the future.
- Service: While it wasn’t surprising that Mike, the manager, was friendly and helpful to me (after all I was there with the idea of posting this review), he earned my respect almost immediately. I spent over 3 hours there (my friend was unexpectedly 90 minutes late) and I watched him smile and support his staff, encourage his cooks, and work behind the scenes to converse with workers and patrons alike. Similarly, our waiter and the bar manager were just the right amount of “attentive” but not overly intrusive! (I hate it when a waiter is just too friendly or familiar… Miller’s got it just right!)
Craft Beer Selection: This was an area that some aficionados might criticize, but I found the selection both appealing and diverse – featuring several local brews (Two Henry’s Brewing and Cigar City Brewing on tap), plus a full lineup of cocktails and non-craft beers.
- I would feel comfortable bringing a mixed group here – I’ve got craft beer friends, Budweiser friends and cocktail lovers – Miller’s caters to all tastes without preference. I was impressed by the menu page with non-technical craft beer notes – perfect for patrons just getting into craft beer. (But don’t be fooled, Jessica, the bar manager knew her stuff – she was familiar with the local craft beer scene AND also asked us for our recommendations on other local brews she could feature.)
- The FOOD – I had to try the Zingers first! Hands-down the BEST chicken fingers ever! Both my friend and I sampled the Zingers (based on popular support of our colleagues) and I’ll be back. I’ve seriously never favored the packaged frozen chicken fingers that are the staple of many chain restaurants, but these things were out of this world.
Moist, tender, juicy, deliciousness that tastes like chicken (because it is!) on a plate. My mouth waters just thinking about them – and on this item alone, (even if everything else had been less than stellar,) I’ll return!
- The New Menu items: We sampled the Ribs, the Brisket, the specialty salad (see menu excerpt) and everything came out on time and delicious. I love BBQ ribs that fall off the bone, and while I couldn’t eat my entire meal (the portions were plentiful!) I was thrilled when I reheated them and they were still moist a day later. Uh, nothing less than impressive.
- Community Pride: It was clear when I walked in that the Lakeland Ale House (and likely most of the other Miller’s Ale House locations) was part of the community. I talked to several patrons (with families) who said it is their favorite local restaurant, and coupled with the fact that they featured Two Henry’s brews on tap (from nearby Plant City, FL) Miller’s has created a good combination of corporate branding (consistency between locations) and local flavor.
Bottom line: Thank you to Miller’s for the invitation and the hospitality! I’d recommend Miller’s Ale House (and in particular the Lakeland, FL location) to anyone who wants a reliably friendly, tasty and thirst quenching experience.
I’ll be back soon!