When Worlds Collide at 44 Mills

My husband and I met about eighteen years ago when we were in college together.  We both worked in restaurants and once we began dating we even worked together.  He spent his days BOH, or Back Of House, cooking anything from sauces and soups to  hand cut steaks and ribs.  I spent my nights FOH, or Front Of House, mixing cocktails at the bar and serving guests.  We were both good at our jobs and found pride in our work.  We learned a lot about how restaurants operate, about what guests expect, and eventually we learned that food would forever remain a big part of our lives. When we finally got married in 2007, we grabbed a flight to Las Vegas and set out on a culinary journey that we would never forget.  Enjoying the iconic Las Vegas buffet,  snails from the top of the Eiffel Tower Restaurant and fresh American dishes from Wolfgang Puck helped us to see what food could and should be.  Above all I think, we learned that great food doesn't have to come from a really fancy restaurant.  Today some of our favorite meals come off of a truck or out of small joint in the back of a strip mall.

Last weekend, my foodie husband and I celebrated twelve short years of marriage.  In twelve years we have experienced amazing blessings and we have also suffered incredible challenges.  With children and a small urban farm to tend to, we never get much time to ourselves.  This year, we had an overnight babysitter and we both felt tremendous pressure to make the most of our time.   We dove head first into the Google search bar and started looking up events, activities, Groupon and restaurant reviews.  For a week we hunted and every single time one of us thought we had figured it out, someone or something tossed a wrench into our plan.  When Friday rolled around and it was time to drop off the kids, we still had no plan.  So, one last time, I pulled out my laptop and typed "best restaurants in Concord, North Carolina."

When I first saw 44 Mills Kitchen & Tap, I was immediately curious.  This restaurant has been open since December 2018 and somehow I had never heard of it.  Located at 6189 Bayfield Parkway in the Afton Ridge shopping center, 44 Mills offers a rotating menu featuring a variety of Southern and American fusion dishes. Executive Chef Mike Watson's eclectic menu and relaxed atmosphere was the answer to all my foodie dreams.  With menu items like Pimento Cheese Toast, Country Ham Biscuits with Honey and Charcuterie, I knew I was in for a real treat.  On top of the exciting and nostalgic menu, 44 Mills also specializes in carefully crafted cocktails, and features FIFTEEN craft beers on tap.  When you walk into 44 Mills you are immediately struck by the captivating ambience.  The fairly large bar looks out over the dining room, which is composed of cool natural tones and wood grain tables.  The combination of cool rock tones with metals fixtures and wood grain leaves guests feeling relaxed and refreshed.  The servers wore plaid tops and blue jeans under shop style aprons further amplifying the farm-to-table style of the menu.  My favorite part, aside from the food, was the open window to the kitchen, which allowed the Chef and the guests to connect in a way that is impossible in many restaurants.

We, of course decided to try out some of the lesser known (to us) craft beer options.  I highly recommend the Bravetart Sour from Lower Left Brewing Co. out of Charlotte.  Then we turned our attention to the craft cocktails.  My husband ordered the Holiday Kettle Mule which came in the classic copper mug.  This mix of Kentucky Bourbon, Fresh Ginger and Apple Cider was amazing and the Candied Ginger and Lime Garnish really stepped it up another level.  For dinner we decided to take the plunge.  He ordered the Striploin with Roasted Corn and Beef Risotto.  I had a Salmon dish that was perfectly cooked and seasoned.  This delectable fillet was so tender that it nearly shredded apart when I dug my fork in.  Paired with a rich pesto and roasted Fall veggies, I ate every bite.  I was dying to try one of the handful of desserts which included a bread pudding and a blueberry cheesecake but alas, there was no more room in my stomach.

44 Mills felt like a place I could come to for my anniversary, and also a place I could grab snacks and a beer at the bar.  The portions were perfect, and with each and every bite we were pleasantly surprised.  The most exciting part is knowing that the menu changes daily and knowing that no matter what's on there, it's going to be good.  From the parking lot you'll see Target, Best Buy and Marshalls, and while this may seem a bit odd, it only adds to the experience for me.  Walking into 44 Mills is almost like traveling through the closet and into Narnia.  A wonderful, amazing, blue jean wearing, foodie loving Narnia.  For more information on 44 Mills, please visit their website at https://44mills.com/.


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