There’s a big difference between saying somewhere's the best place you’ve been and saying somewhere's your favourite. Saying somewhere is the best implies some sort of objective standard against which all meals must be measured. On the other hand saying somewhere is your favourite means that based on your own subjective preferences you liked somewhere more than anywhere else. While we all try to be objective when blogging about the places we visit it’s obviously impossible to come up with a definitive standard that everyone will agree with. It’s probably for the best too – imagine trying to get a table if there was one single place that everyone wants to eat at. Taking that in mind I’m willing to make the call, that Milkwood isn’t the best café I’ve been to this year but it is my favourite.
Why you ask? Because I liked everything about it except it’s so far from home for me. I liked the way it’s so surprisingly nice inside compared to what you’d expect from the outside. It’s a bit of a theme for Melbourne cafes, daggy exteriors mean that it’s a nice surprise when you open the door.
Well sort of anyway, if you can call something you were expecting to be nice a surprise. White walls and furniture broken up by a few decorations and greenery, it’s much more country living or good housekeeping magazine that the industrial or grungy look common in the northern suburbs.
Early on a Saturday morning it was still fairly quiet, with well spaced tables and not overly loud background music and fellow diners who were happy just sitting there drinking coffee or waiting for their choice from a fairly short and simple breakfast menu.
Given outside it was a chilly minus several hundred degrees I decided to go with a warming porridge. Topped with baked orange blossom rhubarb and toasted macadamia and brown sugar crumble, what made it even better was serving the milk in a small jug on the side. I much prefer it when the milk is served separately so you can decide how wet you want your porridge (I’m kind of a dryer porridge guy). It’s similar to maple syrup on pancakes, everyone likes different amounts so why not let us add it to our own taste? The macadamia and sugar crumble gave the dish great texture, and the slight tartness of the rhubarb balanced the overall sweetness very well. It’s just basically yummy warming comfort food.
Snooze went with with the poached eggs on sourdough with an optional extra of avocado with lemon oil. It was a simple dish with good clear distinct flavours, the highlight of which was the avocado and lemon oil. Because it was such a simple dish all the elements need to be spot on, and while I wouldn’t describe the poached eggs as overcooked, a little less cooking would've improved them. One unusual thing which Snooze mentioned was there was a small amount of coarse salt sprinkled over the eggs, something different which she commented on favourably.
Given we had gone with such healthy choices, breakfast desserts were obviously in order. Honestly, given how good they looked it was hard to decide which way to go. They all had that home baked look to them, were generous in size and very, very tempting. Between us we decided on the caramel slice and the Monte Carlo, a cream and jam filled biscuit. The pick of the two was the Monte Carlo although I thought the rich sweet caramel of the slice ran a close second. One thing unusual about them both, at first bite I thought they were each ok, good but nothing special. However the more I ate the better they got and the more I wanted.
I thought it was the nicest place to sit and eat I’ve seen in a café for a long time, with very good food and efficient, polite staff. Combine that with prices at or below similar cafes closer to town and you have a place I’d be more than happy to visit again and again. Now if only they’d open a sister café down in the southeast …
Food – 8
Ambience – 8.5
Service – 8
Price – 7.5
120 Nicolson Street
Brunswick East VIC 3057
Tel: (03) 9380 4062