Milo, the new American restaurant inside the Ellison Hotel, opens Monday, Nov. 22 with lunch and dinner service. Named for milo sorghum, a grain raised in Oklahoma, and a key export, the restaurant is inspired by Oklahoma cuisine. Executive chef Josh Valentine said he’s essentially cooking the foods he grew up with in the metro.
The entire operation is a collaboration between some of the best hospitality professionals in the state: Valentine, Chef Joseph Royer (Saturn Grill, The Metro), food and beverage director Michael O’Hara, and consultant Chris Lower (The Metro, Big Truck, Gusto, Back Door). The result is an outstanding dining experience, stellar service, and a cocktail bar that is immediately one of the best in the city.
Milo is designed to be comfortable and modern. The sleek design and striking fixtures are all contained in a relatively small 38-seat restaurant, just off The Ellison’s beautiful lobby. Milo’s bar is between the lobby and main dining, and the operators fully expect bar service to extend into the lobby/lounge, creating additional seating for what is sure to be a very popular destination.
Valentine’s menu is focused but full of variety, and it represents a refreshing set of new tastes and dishes for our food scene. The sopes are a standout appetizer, especially the buffalo picadillo—and Valentine is always true to his roots, so there is definitely a pork belly sope. His talent is really on full display, though, with a dish that might be a little divisive: The apple agnolotti with crispy chicken skin and chicken liver mousse is unique in OKC, and it manages to straddle the sweet/savory line by being excellent on both poles.
Entrees include fried quail with chorizo gravy. During our soft open meal, Lower watched us taking modest amounts and said, “You’re going to want more gravy.” That could easily be a Milo t-shirt, and probably should be. It’s Oklahoma, so of course there is steak and chicken, but vegetarians need not despair; there is black-eyed pea falafel, vegan sopes, and a delicious Three Sisters Salad. The ricotta dumplings with corn puree are going to be a favorite, and we’ve been asked not to call them Okie gnocchi, but it seems like that needs to be a thing.
The buttermilk panna cotta is a near-perfect dessert, and Chef Kaci Messerly’s brownie is one of the best things on the menu. It doesn’t hurt that Valentine’s signature bacon jam is on the same plate.
The hotel is scheduled to open Dec. 6, at which point Milo will offer breakfast, but for now, it’s lunch and dinner, with Saturday-Sunday brunch beginning Nov. 27. The size of the restaurant coupled with O’Hara’s brilliant bar program—get the Old Fashioned for sure, and they’re going to recommend a cocktail with tomato-infused gin; you should trust them—means getting a seat is going to be tricky for a while. Reservations are already open.