Restaurant review: Milk

Milk, Balham

As a Balham-based blogger, it would be remiss of me not to review Milk. Indeed, brunch at Milk is considered a rite of passage for those new to the area. Yet Milk’s reputation has spread far beyond SW12, and its disciples regard it as a strong contender for the best breakfast south of the river, if not in all London.

Milk’s décor marks it as a hipster enclave in yummy mummy territory. There are distressed chairs and tables, exposed light bulbs and whitewashed walls adorned with school photos, entomological specimens, art magazines and neon lights. Music blares a little too loudly, though always in good taste.

Milk, Balham (3)
Milk, Balham (2)

Yet why waste words describing décor when the food is this good? Ingredients are organic, free range and, where possible, locally sourced. Fruit and veg come from the market on Milk’s doorstep, while herbs and wild flowers are foraged from the banks of River Wandle. Excellent coffee is roasted by the Workshop Coffee Co and, for the caffeine-free, smoothies are served in old milk bottles.

As the consummate sweet tooth, I am in thrall to the buckwheat pancakes. Toppings change weekly, but always follow a well-balanced formula: fresh fruit, quenelle of cream (or similar), and a textural element. On this occasion, bitter smoked apricot was sweetened by a pillow of marshmallow, while macadamia nuts added crunch and highlighted the nuttiness of buckwheat flour. The crowning glory was homemade elderflower syrup that tasted like the Dorset summers of my childhood. Needless to say, I asked for more and duly saturated my pancakes.

Baked eggs, Milk
Buckwheat pancakes, Milk

Milk’s savoury offerings are also staggeringly good. Baked eggs with butternut squash, feta and crispy sage are always tempting, and come with sourdough to mop up the yolks. The ‘Convict’, perhaps so-named to ward off those who are faint of heart (or stomach), consists of English muffin, drycure bacon, moens and sons sausage, burford brown egg, ‘hangover’ sauce and piles of parmesan.

The chefs are also unafraid to experiment with international flavours. The ‘Sweet Maria’, sweetcorn fritters paired with halloumi and avocado, is livened by kasundi – a spicy tomato relish hailing from India. Or, from across the Bay of Bengal, there is sweet Balinese black sticky rice with burnt blood orange, cocao nibs and bitter cascara.

In the unlikely event that you leave hungry, stop at the bakery counter for a slice of hazelnut cake or, in true antipodean fashion, a giant Anzac cookie. Then immediately set a date to visit Milk’s equally appealing sister restaurant, Fields.

Anzac cookies, Milk