Monday, 7 November 2016
Breakfast at Milk, Balham, London
Look at this dish, go on, take it in. Isn't this just autumn in a pan? Butternut squash baked eggs with crispy sage and crumbled feta. The golden yolks perfectly runny to be mopped up with charred toast. And I must say, Butternut squash for breakfast was a bit of a revelation for me.
This is what Milk in South London's yummy-mummy territory, Balham, is really good at - very tasty, well thought out, unsual meals. Oh and the corner premises on Hildreth St market with its huge floor to ceiling windows has the perfect light for Instagramming your brekkie.
But I'm not really sure what Milk is trying to be. It feels very hipster, with its white-washed brick walls and specials menu scrawled straight onto the kitchen tiles, yet it is full of mums with prams, catching up with other mums with prams.
Known for the hoards of South Londoners who queue for an age every weekend for brunch, I went with my friend during the week, so perhaps it had a different vibe. That said, I'm not really a fan of the hipster brunch anyway, I prefer a friendly cafe where I can have a leisurely coffee and sit reading my book. But Milk is more about the uncomfortable wooden stools, squished intimately too close to your neighbour so they can turn around tables as quickly as possible.
So after trying to get as comfortable as possible in my seat and pouring over the menu, I decided on the butternut squash and eggs combo, while my anti-egg brunching friend decided on the corn fritters with some Indian-spiced sauce and corriander topping - I'm sorry, Milk's minimalist website doesn't offer their menu, so I'm struggling to remember ingredients, never mind prices a week later. Her meal arrived in a stark metal dish and she tells me it was very tasty.
While I can't fault the food and its extensive brunch menu (of which I can't remember as there were so many options), we were rather annoyed by the policy of 'no swaps'. My friend wanted to switch her avocado for mushrooms, which were the same price on the menu if you wanted them as extras, but we were told she would have to pay extra for mushrooms as they did not offer substitutions. This really got our goat. In a city where you pay between £8-15 for a decent brunch dish, I felt that was rather cheeky. And the thing is, it's the kindness of ensuring your customers enjoy their meal that will get us returning again and again. And when we have so many brunch options and places we want to try on our list, I feel Milk has been ticked off and I'll go onto the next, rather than popping in again in the future.
But as I wander by one Saturday morning a weekend later and note the throngs of people waiting in the chilly November morning for a table, I don't think Milk is worried right now about breakfast loyalty.
The corner of Hildreth St & Bedford Hill
(no reservations - obviously)