Walter Mihm got booted out of the tenth grade.
Just ask his wife, Stanis, about it. She’s proud to tell the story of what ended up catapulting her husband to “I’ll show you” success. Call it his teacher and principal’s “aha” moment. Some 70 years later, the 86-year-old entrepreneur has a year-and-a-half-old new business — Walter Mihm’s Steakhouse.
And it’s just the latest in a lifelong string of business ventures of which the resident (of the New Monmouth section of Midddletown) and Stanis are very proud.
Pay a visit. They’ll tell you all about them and more. It’s not just a restaurant. It’s a community experience.
“Yes, Walter was kicked out of the tenth grade and he showed them all,” Stanis said merely five minutes after meeting this Patch editor. “His teacher, for no good reason, looked at him one day and said, in front of the entire class, ‘You. You’re never going to amount to anything.’ He said horrible things to Walter and he just wouldn’t stop. So, Walter decked him. And he got sent to the principal and kicked out of school. He never went back. We ran into that principal one day at one of Walter’s restaurants in Monmouth Beach and he extended his hand to Walter. Walter refused to shake his hand. He never will. He never forgot that. Boy, was that teacher ever wrong!”
It was a case of who’s sorry now; and, one that, to this day, motivates the man behind the business who, in spite of his age, has no plans of slowing down any time soon.
Walter Mihm will tell you a few of his own life, community and business stories himself, if you ask him. And he’s got plenty to tell, if you’re lucky enough to be there when he makes his rounds.
The couple’s mainstay presence is all part of the carefully cultivated community atmosphere in the restaurant, not to mention the alluring smell of a good, old-fashioned steakhouse steak and plenty of intriguing specials.
And if you visit the small, red building perched on the side of Route 36 in the Leonardo section of Middletown, you’re likely to see Mihm there. He’s there every day, the very friendly staff will tell you.
When Patch paid a visit recently and asked about the restaurant’s namesake, known for bringing the first ferry service to the Bayshore area (Direct Line), we were told by very welcoming, friendly manager Patty Malloy, “Oh, he’s doing great. He usually comes in at about 6 or 6:30 p.m. He likes to be here every day.”
The conversation is something that comes before, during and after dinner. And it’s welcoming, not intrusive.
Once you take a gander at the extensive menu and specials, you may want to ask Patty or your friendly waitress’ opinion.
They’ll share anything you need to know. Patty’s husband, Neil, is the chef.
They’ll tell you that the bacon-wrapped scallops dish with a unique secret sauce is very popular; and there’s a reason for that — they’re delicious. Cooked just right, the sea scallops’ flavor was complemented, not overpowered, by the bacon and sauce that had a hint of horseradish.
There’s a great raw bar at Mihm’s, including oysters, clams and the usual shrimp cocktail. The oysters, from the Chesapeake, were very fresh and just sweet enough.
Patty will tell you that her husband loves to experiment. And that he does — quite well.
When Patch was there, he had a lasagna appetizer on the menu that was a big hit and something you may not imagine. That would be lasagna made with goat cheese, spinach and sun dried tomatoes. Sound like an unlikely combo? It was rather likely. YUM!
Then there was the meatball Parmigiana soup. Sounds very weird. Tastes very good. The soup comes in a crock, looking like French onion on the outside. On the inside, it was another story. There was an Italian bread crouton, just like the French bread with onion soup, and a tomato-based, cheesy soup with small meatballs. Very interesting. Definitely worth a try, especially if you love the idea of “souped up” Italian food.
Then, of course, there are the steaks. Wow. Every kind of steak imaginable is on the menu. Walter and Stanis, Patty and Neil have created what they set out to create — a New York-style steakhouse right here on the Bayshore of Middletown.
So, we ordered some steak, of course; and while waiting for the grilled delights — that melted in the mouth like, well … “butta” — had some great conversation with our waitress and Patty, who told us all about her husband’s penchant for coming up with innovative menu concoctions.
“I don’t know where he comes up with this stuff, but whatever special it is, it always turns out great,” she said.
There’s nothing Neil won’t try, she added. And his creative culinary quests are perfect complements to the classic steakhouse menu filled with every prime cut of beef imaginable, including ribeye, porterhouse, filet mignon and New York strip. Then there’s the New Zealand rack of lamb with a rosemary demi-glace and pork chops served with apple sweet onion compote or Cajun rub. Then there are ribs specials. And, you can add a five-ounce lobster tail to any of those entrees.
Speaking of seafood, there’s a full menu of it, from live Maine lobster, to Chilean sea bass crusted with crabmeat with lemon butter, to lobster, shrimp and scallops fra diavlo over linguini dishes.
It’s no surprise that the owners/operators of this Bayshore niche have a tasty, unique dining experience in store for patrons.
Mihm’s restaurants included: the shore classic Channel Club in Monmouth Beach, The Haul Out on the Shrewsbury River, The Waterfront in Sea Bright (from 1970 to 1984) and operation of the Old Orchard in Eatontown (from 1980 to 1992).
Neil and Patty Malloy were managing partners of the Olde Union House in Red Bank. The back of the menu will tell you the whole family story.
It also invites you to “Please come back often and become part of the ‘Family.’” Do that. It’s a treat to dine and converse there.
The restaurant is open Tuesdays through Thursdays, from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mihm’s is closed on Mondays. You can call at 732-291-0711 or visit on the Web at www.waltermihmssteakhouse.com.