Benny's Bar and Grill

Open since: August 2007

Location: Benny's Bar and Grill is on U.S. Highway 78 beside the Golden Corral in what used to be Mellow Mushroom.

Hours: Benny's is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.

Owner: Benny's Bar and Grill owner Mike Miller, a Lilburn resident, has been in the restaurant industry for almost 13 years and had been looking for a place to open his own restaurant for about four years before finding his location. Miller considers himself a price- and portion-conscious owner and said he likes to treat guests as if they are dining in his own home.

"This is my baby," he said. "I'm not here to rake in money. I love this. I get such a joy out of what I do."

Although Miller hasn't been trained as a chef, his mark is on all his dishes.

"I'm in the kitchen day in and day out working on recipes," he said.

Atmosphere: Benny's is a fairly casual place with touches of a fine dining experience. The dining area is open, with booth, table and high-top table seating, and stools at the full bar. The bright colors and airy atmosphere are welcoming, and a large projector screen and two corner TVs add to the bar feel that is offset by the linen napkins on each table and the exquisite food presentation.

Menu: Benny's offers a generous menu with something for every guest. Dishes range from the casual bar fare - tater tots piled with chili, cheese sauce, onions, tomatoes, salsa and cheddar cheese - to dishes that would be offered on menus at up-scale restaurants, including the most popular entree, the made-from-scratch almond tilapia - a moist, melts-in-your-mouth piece of fish topped with almond butter sauce and toasted almonds, served with seasoned roasted potatoes and asparagus. In keeping with the up-scale quality of the offerings, all of Benny's sandwiches, including the fried oyster and fried shrimp po-boys, are served on French bread from a New Orleans bakery.

"This is the real bread," Miller said.

In the way of desserts, the key lime sticks - traditional key lime pie skewered, covered in chocolate ganache and served frozen with a dollop of whipped cream - is the favorite, Miller said, followed by the rum bread pudding, his great-grandmother's recipe. This dessert is a dense bread pudding with a sweet rum sauce, served cold and topped with whipped cream. Miller said serving the rum bread pudding cold makes the flavor more intense.

Benny's offers typical beverage selections - soft drinks and tea, along with beer and wine - as well as a flavorful assortment of martini drinks from sour raspberry to pomegranate.

Things you might not know: You won't find salt and pepper shakers on the table at Benny's; you have to ask for them.

"If I watch a server walk out (of the kitchen) with salt and pepper, I want to know where it's going," Miller said. "Did we not season something properly?"

This owner wants guests to try the food before adding their own seasoning.

"The food is full of bold flavors," Miller said.

SideBar: On The Menu

Chimichurri steak: Steak marinated in garlic, onions, herbs, oil and vinegar served with roasted potatoes and spinach ($12)

House stir fry: Shrimp, mussels, chicken, steak, mushrooms, peas, corn and onion tossed with house sauce on saffron rice ($14)

Sunflower fruit salad: Spinach with strawberries, pineapple, mandarin oranges, sunflower seeds and citrus balsamic vinaigrette ($8)