Going Back....to Model Milk

One of the amazing appetizers served at Model Milk's Sunday dinner; the restaurant, at 308 17th Avenue SW, is situated in an old building that was once a dairy.  Definitely worth a taste; reservations recommended.

My father-in-law Bill (well technically, he’s not my father-in-law anymore, but practically--and forever--he will be) grew up just off 17th Avenue, SW, in a big house.  We made a little diversion this week to drive past it—only one block off the Red Mile, which I think is ok to do because the story of why we went there is directly related to this blog, and this entry in particular.

Bill's boyhood home at 322 18th Avenue, SW

When Bill was a little boy, he would walk to the Haultain School each day—it was over and up from his house, in the area of 13th Avenue and 2nd Street, SW.  Finished in 1894, it was a traditional sandstone building that, according to city records, cost a whopping $2500 to build (OK, that was a lot of money in that day). 

It was closed due to low enrollment in the early 60’s and a couple years later it, and its annex, were badly damaged by fire.  The main building was taken down, but the annex is still there today (I know this, because we drove past it before heading back to 17th).

Bill and his friends would stop at the northwest corner of 17th and 2nd Street, SW most mornings, at the loading dock of the Model Milk Dairy.  They’d bang on the door, and it would be opened by a dairyman who’d give them  half pints of chocolate milk in glass bottles. This was the leftover milk that had expired but not spoiled, so it was given to the boys, who would then sit on the curb and watch the horse carts load up the milk deliveries for the day.  They’d down the liquid treat and return the bottles, thank the workers (they were Canadian boys, after all) and race off to beat the bell at the Haultain School.

That’s one of those things that happens to you as a kid that you never forget—a warm memory that stays inside your head--and your heart--forever.

So it was particularly fitting for Bill to be my dining companion at Model Milk for a recent Sunday dinner.

The popular restaurant is known for its location, its ambiance and its food.  On Sunday evenings, the menu is set and served family style—no need to make up your mind about what you want, because you’re getting it all.  

Three appetizers (not sure which I liked better--the devilled eggs, zapped with a little za’atar spice, or the wedge salad filled with baby shrimp in a wonderfully light dressing), two main proteins (both smoked and little hard to tell apart, but both delicious), some greens, house made pickles, some corn, and some waffle fries with pimento cheese (haven’t had that in a while).  Dessert was a peanut butter semifreddo (soft ice cream) with grape jelly and whisky reduction and some crumble on top.  All served on these cute little plates with different florals on them—just like the kind your grandparents had.

First course: appetizers

So…while Bill never had the chance to see the inside of the dairy as a kid, we discovered that Model Milk is actually in the part of the building that was a newer addition added to the dairy when it changed hands in the late 40’s—shortly after Bill and his buddies made the Model Milk Dairy part of their morning routine.

But that’s okay.  As we walked around the east end of the building where the loading dock was originally situated, I realized how much I enjoyed listening to him talk about what the city was like 70, 75 years ago.  

It’s a real treat to learn about a place you thought you knew so well…from someone who really does.