VENUE DETAILS

Mill Valley Kitchen

Price:

Cuisine Type:

American, American contemporary

Serves:

Lunch, Dinner

Handicap Accessible:

No

Outdoor Seating:

Yes

Handicap Accessible:

No

Outdoor Seating:

Yes

REVIEW

"I feel like I just walked into an Eileen Fisher sample sale," said my friend as he joined me for lunch at Mill Valley Kitchen. No kidding. From my vantage point, his entrance doubled the number of men dining in the crowded room. Until his arrival, I appeared to be the sole male diner.

I have tremendous affection for restaurants where whole groups of people are made to feel welcome, and this new St. Louis Park enterprise coddles its female demographic so successfully that I wouldn't be surprised if owner and first-time restaurateur Craig Bentdahl's strategy ended up in a Harvard Business School case study.

The gravitational pull starts with the surroundings. Anyone who says that decor doesn't matter has clearly never logged a few pleasant hours seated inside Mill Valley Kitchen. There, the Minneapolis design firm of Shea Inc. deftly demonstrates the transformative powers of crown molding and coffered ceilings, and then washes the whole sunny, wide-open square footage in a flattering cream color (it's Dover White by Sherwin-Williams) that will undoubtedly become the paint that launched a thousand kitchen renovations. It's a non-confrontational blend of contemporary and traditional that quietly dissolves into a backdrop for making the real stars of the show -- the customers -- stand out.

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