Offering casual breakfast and lunch by day and private upscale dining at night, Millport Restaurant in Imperial Beach is a success story that opened during the pandemic. The space was previously Red House Kitchen for several years, and Millport started out as a pop-up dinner restaurant on weekends in February 2020. Partners Alynn Silliman and Emmi Reiter decided to go all in and took over the lease in October 2020, with the motto ‘Welcome Home.’ Together with their staff of only two others, Heather and Shelly, a mother and daughter team, they strive to make guests feel like they are at a friend’s home enjoying plentiful, rustic fare.
The duo shares, “We are striving to stand out by providing friendly service and making connections with our customers. This was a crazy time to buy a restaurant and it has been a struggle, but so worth it!” They feel they are in a groove, as their clientele of regulars continues to grow.
You can savor breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Sunday, from 8 am to 2 pm, on the front patio. They offer a variety of breakfast sandwiches, Big City Bagels, popular homemade biscuits and gravy, and swine bowls, as well as something for those with a sweet tooth like S’mores French Toast. They also feature homemade pastries, with many keto, vegan, and gluten free options. We sampled the gluten free blueberry muffin and found it to be one of the best we’ve ever had.
Serving James Coffee, they offer a variety of drip and espresso drinks with a menu of interesting drinks, including Emmi’s whipped coffee, which boasts espresso and honey on top of your choice of milk. For quirky options, try the iced orange espresso and tonic with agave or the iced blackberry earl grey tea latte. They are proud to make all their sweeteners and syrups in-house with real ingredients.
An array of pastries lines the counter, especially plentiful on weekends, and they have found that they can’t make enough of the berry scones to meet customer demand. The white chocolate thyme cookie we sampled was gluten free and scrumptious.
Moving into lunch, warm sandwiches, like a decadent herb grilled cheese, wild game burger, and veggie cheesesteak, as well as a beef & beet salad, New England roll, and Goddess Linguine are selections. You’ll also find a market inside, with grab and go foods, preserves, seasonings, breads and pastries, cards, cookbooks, gift items and other goodies.
Initially, they tried serving supper in the cozy garden patio, which we loved, but have had to pivot during the pandemic, and now offer monthly chef’s dinners and clam bakes. Private events can be reserved and customized — think romantic elevated date night dinner for two, or enjoy a special meal with larger groups of friends or family. Dinners typically feature five to seven courses, starting with deliciously seasoned popcorn and then moving on to small bites like Fisherman’s Deviled Eggs. Entrees can be requested, but favorites include venison and fish selections. Desserts are created by Emmi, who gets creative with what’s in season and what inspires her, with tarts and herbed ice cream among her varied offerings.
“COVID was actually a blessing in disguise, because people have been more accepting when we have to pivot and change to keep our business successful,” they comment. About 50 percent of their business is take-out, and they offer phone ordering with curbside pickup. Millport hosted a successful holiday pop up market featuring local vendors and plans to do another one later in the spring.
Why the name Millport we wondered… discovering that it comes from the tiny town of less than 300 people, where Chef Alynn grew up fishing, hunting, gardening, and creating meals for her family, in the western part of upstate New York. With no formal restaurant experience, but a passion for cooking, she focuses on creating hearty New England fare. “We took a huge risk, but we listen to what the community wants, while staying true to our vision,” she comments. There has definitely been a learning curve, while they have not only honed their cooking and baking skills but are now adept at cleaning drains and doing needed maintenance.
Mouthwatering ham, herbed mashed potatoes, spiced carrots, spring harvest salad and seasoned rolls with dessert options, will be offered for a special Easter Dinner. Call for details 619-884-8096.