A Conversation with The Milton’s Co-Owner Tomas Maher
An innovative dining and drinking establishment has found its home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. VIP Room’s Tomas Maher, has joined forces with Chef David E. Diaz, formerly of Brasserie Beaumarchais to open The MiltonCombined with Maher and Diaz’s downtown vibe, uptown restaurant veterans Liam Moore (Harley’s Smoke Shack) and John Hayes (Doc Watsons) have integrated their expertise to create a truly unforgettable, relaxed, yet sophisticated food and beverage experience.
The Milton’s British roots are represented in a unique fusion of American, British and Irish cuisine. This “Paradise Found” is a welcome addition to New York’s burgeoning Upper East Side and creates an environment that is instantly welcoming.
Growing up in hospitality (literally ) in his family’s Bed and Breakfast on the SouthEast Coast of Ireland, Tomas Maher got his first taste of the industry, which stayed with him through his studies when he moved to the US and then played a large role when he pursued nightlife in NYC with the opening of Kiss & Fly (now VIP room). Now moving into a his current role with a new restaurant in the Upper East Side, Tomas explains how His Past influenced his Present Day Project, What to Expect at The Milton and How the New Bar and Restaurant Fits Into the Upper East Side Vibe.
When did you first get into the restaurant/nightlife scene?
Well if we were to talk about the hospitality industry you could say I was born into it. I grew up in a popular Bed and Breakfast back home in Ireland. In New York, I began working in the nightlife scene in 2002, it was at a small bar and grill called TJ’s on 71st and York.
What was your first job and position in hospitality?
Again going back to being raised in a Bed and Breakfast in Ireland. I was a jack of all trades really from taking bookings over the phone, showing the rooms, helping with bags, making tea, cooking breakfast for guests. In New York it was bartending.
How does your experience in nightlife influence your restaurant?
Well the experience I have in addition to my partners have is invaluable. Although I almost hate to admit it, combined we have almost 80 years of experience in nightlife. I would say that covering the basics is simple but where our experience sets us apart is making sure all the little things are taken care of correctly. I feel that it’s the culmination of all the little things that sets a place apart. It’s like baking a cake– if one ingredient is missing the cake falls flat. Whether it be décor, food, music, atmosphere, service they all play an equally valuable role in a customer’s experience.
What type of ‘scene’ will people expect from The Milton?
It’s difficult for me to use the word ‘scene’ in the same sentence as the Milton, as ‘scene’ is something I associate more with a place in the meatpacking etc. The ‘atmosphere’ I would expect is very simple; people from all corners of the world who work hard in New York, coming together enjoying properly made drinks, excellent food in a warm and welcoming environment.
Since The Milton is not the typical restaurant/bar you expect to see in the UES, do you feel the neighborhood is changing?
Since settling here in 2003 I’ve seen plenty of changes and most for the better. The growth of the UES took a hit when the construction of the avenue subway began. However New Yorkers are resilient people and it wasn’t too long before they were used to the huge dump trucks, cranes etc. parked outside their doorstep. Once this happened new restaurants began to take some risks. Since then neither the neighborhood nor the people living in it has looked back. More recently the area north of 86th street is being developed and this is where we have added our influence. The Milton is a place you would typically find in downtown areas such as the west village, soho or Nolita. We wanted to created a place to enjoy hand crafted cocktails and great food in a genuine warm welcoming environment after a hard day’s work. The environment suits all occasions: happy hour with friends and family lunch or dinner with co-workers or a date.
What are some signature food items on your menu?
We have a unique version of a traditionally British “Shepherd’s Pie” which is our Guinness braised short rib gruyere cottage pie. This is sure to please even those who haven’t had affection for the traditional Shepherd’s Pie. When it comes to snacks everyone seems to love the truffle Chicken Nuggets and our devilled eggs stuffed with crabmeat.
What’s your favorite cocktail on the menu? What ingredients are included in the cocktail?
After running around all day and you’re seeking a little calm our ‘Keep the Heid’ is sure to be the perfect thing to bring some relaxation. We start with Rooibus Tea Infused Pigs Nose Scotch; add Lemon, Pineapple, Honey, Velvet Falernum Liqueur with a dash of Angostura bitters.
Another personal favorite is a twist the classic “Old Fashioned. ” We start with Mezcal bringing a little smoke to one of New Yorker’s favorite beverages. And ours are stirred, not shaken.
Fill the blank. Upper East Siders should come to The Milton to enjoy ____
Some of the best things in life: Great food, drinks and good company in a warm environment that takes you away from the hustle and bustle of New York
What future projects are you looking to get into?
A lot of people in the industry start thinking about the next place when they haven’t even opened the place they just started. The Milton is my home for now. Maybe a year from now I’ll start thinking about the next endeavor. Right now home is where my heart (soul) is. And right now my heart is right here at the Milton.
Do you have any hot bartenders? (Personal question). Jk.. not really.
Each bartender brings something to the table. They’re from different parts of the city, different parts of the world, and they all have stories to tell. Come get to know them, and yeah they’re all easy on the eyes. 😉