It's Yuppie Heaven: The Milton Tavern

----------------------------------------------------------------- Restaurant review

Milton Tavern, 7320 Pacific Highway E., Milton; 922-3340 . Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Friday-Saturday, until 1 a.m.; Sunday, until 11 p.m. Serves beer, wine. -----------------------------------------------------------------

MILTON - Will Sara go to law school? Will Alison marry Richard? Will Paul buy a house . . . start a family . . . trade the Beamer for a . . . no, Paul, not a station wagon!

The talk swirls around the tables. Seven years ago it was a biker bar.

But hold your Harleys - whatever happened to "the Milton?"

Today, it has flowers and a deck with tables and umbrellas and the format is geared more toward nachos than machos.

Is it still a tavern? You bet your microbrew. It's one of the best yuppie bars around.

When Chris Guzek bought the Milton Tavern in 1987, he had not only a bar to renovate, but its reputation.

He added windows, flower beds, gave it a paint job. Two years ago, he made a radical decision - the former bastion of brawlers, boozers and smokers was going smoke free.

Business increased 200 percent over the year before as the new crowd of patrons found a place where they could breathe - and talk - over the latest microbrew.

"It's like a party in your own home," says manager Tim Tooker.

There are no dart boards, no pool tables, no juke boxes. A football game plays on TV, virtually ignored. Laughter and animated conversation dominates. So do those who are thirtysomething and fortysomething.

On Friday and Saturday, those who don't arrive before 7 p.m. may find it hard to get a table. Often they stand at the bar. It's OK - the atmosphere is friendly.

"Here, have a piece of pizza while you wait." A couple offers a slice to a stranger waiting in line for beer.

Pizza is one of the best offerings of the house, along with the sensational nachos featuring homemade salsa, and the "Baked Bar-b-que Beef" sandwich. And the lineup of 31 microbrews on tap, available in 10-ounce glasses, emphasizes beer sampling, rather than swilling.

Unless you're strictly carnivorous, forget the "Mighty Milton Burger" with its two enormous beef patties that dominate everything else in the sandwich.

Most sandwich prices are $6.95, $8.95 for pizza and $6.95 for taco or chicken salads.

As bar food goes, Milton fare is generally a satisfying accompaniment to all those microbrews. Most of the brews are from the Northwest and include Milltown, the tavern's own recipe, manufactured in Portland.

Guzek, who also owns The Mint in Enumclaw, plans to expand Milton to include a restaurant upstairs and a brewery downstairs.