I first wrote about 903 Mills Market in 2003 when original owners Jim Ellis and Nick Massoni took over what had previously been known as Max’s Market and made it a Lake Davis neighborhood hangout.
Since then, I’ve conservatively driven past the corner cafe more than 2000 times — I live nearby, but given the vagaries of a restaurant critic’s life, casual, nonprofessional meals are something of a rarity.
But on a recent Sunday morning, not wanting to make breakfast or drive far away, I grabbed the other half and the dog (the other quarter?) and we took a stroll to the corner of Mills Avenue and Gore Street.
Even when it first opened, 903 Mills Market wasn’t much of a market. Its forte was wine and beer, mainly to be consumed on the premises, which meant at one of the patio tables because space inside was minimal. Food was always available, but the menu focused on sandwiches because there wasn’t much of a kitchen. In the evenings of those early days, blue plate specials of hot entrees were offered, but I’m pretty sure they were prepared off premises and brought in for serving.
The facilities have expanded somewhat, but there’s still hardly a full professional kitchen. But the market makes do.
We grabbed a seat at one of the umbrellaed tables and I went inside to grab a couple of menus. Once we made our choices, I went inside to order at the counter. I paid and was told the food would be brought out when it was ready.
And so it was.
I selected the Omelito, which featured scrambled eggs inside a large flour tortilla with sausage, onions, peppers and cheese blended in. The tortilla was ironed so that it had a toasted exterior. There were plenty of ingredients but it was a tad dry.
My brunch companion considered the NickGriddle (a holdover from the original days?) but instead went with the Big Mills breakfast, which had two scrambled eggs, two strips of bacon, sausage, two small pancakes and a plank fashioned out of hash browns that was called a potato cake on the menu. The cakes, both pan and potato, had a quality that made me think they were not freshly made, but with some butter and extra syrup all was enjoyed.
The staff, both inside and outside, were chipper and efficient. There are plenty of water dishes around the patio to keep the doggies happy.
I know that the ownership of 903 has changed a couple of times over the years but I don’t know who the current owners are. Neither did a staff member who answered the phone recently. That seems odd.
But most of the people who populate the patio on any given day don’t seem to mind, so I guess it doesn’t really matter.
903 Mills Market is at 903 S. Mills Ave., Orlando. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, and as it has since the beginning, it closes at 9:03 every night. The phone number is 407-898-4392.