Wednesday, July 4, 2007


It seemed the perfect day to visit this mainstay of Charlottesville's bar scene. If it is true that Charlottesville city (maybe county) law requires an establishment to earn a certain percentage of its receipts from food, this is a godsend in the case of Miller's. Indeed this place is made for drinking. It looks like a bar should look but rarely does. It's old and wooden with a high, painted tin ceiling. A long bar lines the entire west wall. There's an old upright piano up front. Two rows of tables fill the rest. Up front a built-in stage occupies the front window with the iconic Miller's neon sign. And of course Dave Matthews used to work here.

Back to the food, Miller's fried edibles are some of the best in Charlottesville, specifically, the fish and chips. A recent experience with Horse and Hound's fish and chips prompted a trip to the source. The thick fried filets of fish are almost too good. It's easy to eat too much. Their fries are some of the best around. Miller's can not be known for its service, but that's not the reason to go there. Their Guinness is the best, with O'Neill's second, Mellow Mushroom third. I don't what makes one Guinness better than another. Perhaps it's the place where it's imbibed.

The second floor feels spacious next to the main bar, but the booths against the back wall with their candle-lit shadows are cozy. Fully separated from the first two floors is the pool hall on the third floor. Miller's is one of the places that makes this town great.

109 west main street
Charlottesville, VA 22902
(434) 971-8511


Eric said...

Since I'm also a fish and chips aficionado, I thought I'd mention my favorites. I went to the Horse and Hound during their first week with an very large group and they were overwhelmed; they did the best they could. The service was friendly but painfully inexperienced. I haven't tried the fish and chips there but I look forward to giving them a go.

For me there are 4 basic criteria to good fish and chips: the quality of the fish, the batter, fires, and sides.

3) Millers: Fish itself is unimpressive, but the batter is crispy and pretty good. I agree the fires are top notch, and while there's nothing wrong with a traditional malt vinegar only, its all they have worth putting on your fish. B

2) Tiffany's seafood: They have the largest and freshest fried fish in town (not even a contest.) The down-home batter done right there is great. It's almost too much to eat if you only want a meal instead of a feast. Fries are okay, but the cocktail sauce is some of the best in town (not shy on the horseradish and lemon and not overly sweet.) A-

1) She-been: Great fish, near perfect lite and crispy batter, and the fries are on par with Millers. Where they really pull ahead is on the sides. Newspaper wrapping also adds a nice touch on the presentation. A+

Waldo said...

It's not city or county law, it's state law that requires bars to earn a certain percentage of their income from food. That's because, in Virginia, there's no such thing as a bar. No such legal classification exists. There are only restaurants that have ABC on-site licenses. And a restaurant that sells more alcohol than food (I don't know what the ratio is) ceases to be a restaurant, and thus will have their ABC license revoked.

This is the reason that it's not possible, under Virginia law, to ban smoking in restaurants but continue to allow it in bars. Again, it's because there's no such thing as a bar.