Photos by Ramona Sky Rosenthal
Let’s take a trip back in time to the Bing Crosby classic, “Holiday Inn,: best known for its definitive screen version of Irving Berlin’s iconic, laconic ballad “White Christmas.” The film pairs Crosby and Fred Astaire as business partners who open a country inn in rural Connecticut that’s only open on the national holidays. The Milleridge Inn, located amidst the hubbub of Jericho Turnpike in the suburbs of Long Island (585 N. Broadway in Jericho), is a real-life “Holiday Inn,” though open year-round, that does a better job of embracing the ethos of the major holidays than Crosby and Astaire at their Hollywood best.
The Milleridge Inn is one of the few historic properties left in the densely populated, modernistic office-building culture of the North Shore of Long Island. The story goes that George Washington slept here (false) while pursuing Hessian officers (true) who were quartered here (the Milleridge dates back to 1672 in its earliest incarnation) along with the ill-tempered and ribald British troops.
In 1783, Elias Hicks (the owner of the Milleridge property at the time) turned his home into a restaurant, offering simple and delicious dishes like homemade bread; fish stew; pot roast; duck—a local item before farm to table became the rage; baked ham; and, of course, turkey dinners with giblet gravy. Through the years, the Milleridge has expanded its operation to include bake shops, gift shops, ice cream parlors and banquet halls, but the cornerstone is a sprawling dining room with a roaring fireplace, dark, moody portraits of American presidents and waterfowl, and a staff that is trained to be both polite and servile.
During December, the Christmas spirit runs deep in the Milleridge dining experience, as carolers belt out classics like “Silver Bells” and “Frosty the Snowman” and Santa Claus takes time out from making toys to eat breakfast (reservations are required) with children and their parents.
The highlights of the December menu reflect the typical “country inn” fare that’s offered most of the year, with a few seasonal dishes like the Baked Christmas Ham with the traditional Dutch Reformed Church flourishes of a Pineapple Rum Raisin Sauce and a scintillating Chateaubriand with an-inspired Bordelaise sauce made from bone marrow and beef stock.
The year-round go-to dishes are the Milleridge Chicken (a double chicken breast stuffed with country ham and imported Swiss); the Broiled Filet of Salmon (served with a whole-grain mustard sauce); the Old Fashioned Yankee Pot Roast (served with pan gravy made from winter root vegetables and pan drippings); Sliced London Broil (served with an exquisite Bordelaise); and Braised Shank of Western Lamb (served with a pan gravy from lamb stock and garnished with a house made green apple mint jelly).
The best part of the Milleridge experience is the homemade popovers (rich in buttery overtones) and freshly-baked loaves of cinnamon bread, both brought to the table while you glance at the menu while sipping a hot apple cider or a stiff drink. The desserts are also worth noting: the rice pudding is served ice-cold, with sweet flavors and overtones of all-spice and nutmeg, while the pumpkin pie is in and of itself worth the trip to this throwback dining experience par excellence.
IF YOU GO
THE MILLERIDGE INN
585 N. Broadway
Jericho, New York