Millie's in Silver Lake, beloved for its pretension-free brunches, has for as long as most can remember closed up shop entirely by 4 p.m. daily. But it has recently, quietly, joined the growing mix of establishments on that block that are staying open later into the evening.
The restaurant has incorporated a dinner pop-up, called Of Aire, into the mix on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. It's brought to us by chefs Dave Martinez and Greg Arnold. Arnold has done time at Sage and other vegan/vegetarian restaurants, and unsurprisingly, it's his meat-free dishes that shine at Of Aire — they shine rather brightly.
All of the plates are purposeful messes, heaped with green herbs and nasturtiums atop smears of (usually) tahini- and labneh-based sauces. It's all bright colors and bold flavors, and somehow the attack on your senses really works: the grilled radicchio on the “buffalo falafel” plate tastes deliciously burnt, the strawberries aren't overwhelmed by the pickled vegetables, the actual falafel bits are all crunch and nicely suited to running through the smoked tahini.
The antipasti plate is similar in that it seems like a discordant mess but it tastes good, so who cares if it “makes sense.” Pickled vegetables! Grilled vegetables! Raw vegetables! Plus harissa and basil! And fruit! You'll be licking the labneh off the plate.
The two meat-based dishes on the menu, a “bone broth” and a bison Bolognese, need some tweaking. Or, just excise them completely, and turn this stretch of Sunset into even more of a vegetable paradise — neighbor Mh Zh is similarly herbaceous.
There's no word yet on how long Of Aire will stay put at Millie's, but the small crowds it's drawing seem to be enjoying themselves, with bottles of booze emerging from tote bags and people lingering late into the evening, inviting passing friends to sit down, because Silver Lake is that kind of neighborhood.
The servers are employees of Millie's, which means the guys who normally see you bleary-eyed on Sunday morning now can bear witness to what got you all frizzy-haired in the first place.
Of Aire at Millie's: Thu.-Sat., 6-10 p.m.; 3524 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake.