I have been saying for years that Indianapolis could use a few more nice breakfast places. Thankfully some recent entrepreneurs have taken me up on the challenge. On Sunday, I picked up my daughter and we made the trek out in the cold to try out one of the newest, Milktooth, at 534 Virginia Avenue in Fletcher Place, halfway between downtown and Fountain Square.
The owner(s) converted an old service station (i.e., ugly local eyesore) into a much needed AM and early afternoon eatery. On the way in, patrons can view the garden beds where they grow herbs and greens for some of their signature dishes. Taking note of the outdoor patio seating, I thought that it might be fun to come back in the summer (as I love outdoor dining).
We were greeted with a smile by an actual hostess, (something often missing at breakfast time). She sat us at a table for two near the entrance. Even at 9 am on a Sunday, the place was already pretty full. We began looking at the menu. The only problem was, the table was too tall – I think it is probably not an issue for men or tall women, but it came up to my chest which is too high for me and I consider myself average.
We asked to be moved to the counter, and were quickly accommodated without fuss. Eating at the old fashioned counter on swivel stools gave us the added benefit of watching the chefs prepare the beautiful dishes Milktooth serves. Putting out food that tastes good is only half of what they do. The staff arranges each plate with care and artistry, so you feel like you have been served a true work of art. The menu is rather avant-garde and you will probably find yourself asking questions about their offerings. Once you get your food, you will understand why they don’t like to modify their plates.
Even the typical breakfast items are served with panache. My daughter ordered the Belgian waffle, served with almonds, fresh apple slices, crème fraiche and syrup, the perfect combination of chewy and crunchy, sweet with just a hint of salty all in one. I ordered the Little Bear Plate, myself. You wouldn’t think there would be much to say about the basic scrambled egg, but they were superb – cooked just the right amount, soft and salty, mmm.
Watching the food preparation process at Milktooth made me think more about what goes into the price of a meal away from home. When you see all of the hands that come into play to put a plate on the table, you understand. When you go out to eat, you’re not just paying for the food, you are paying the salaries of people whose livelihood is food preparation. You are paying for the sourcing of quality ingredients (think about how much time you spend making decisions at the store) the creativity, the care and the craftsmanship that go into making a beautiful meal. I watched one of their chefs prepare a cucumber tomato salad on the spot – for one plate! It didn’t come out of a bowl that had been sitting in the refrigerator: he quartered the cherry tomatoes, sliced the cucumber and tossed it all with herbs and a house-made dressing two minutes before it was eaten. It was literally made to order. There were so many more things I would have liked to try, but will save that for another trip, as we will surely be going back.
Overall, the atmosphere was friendly and our waiter was excellent. He helped us with the menu, checked on us regularly and refilled our coffee. It is obvious that their community of chefs, servers, baristas and support staff enjoy working in such a creative environment. As breakfast places go, Milktooth is a refreshing addition to the Indianapolis landscape. Hint: Get there early on weekend mornings. By the time we left at 10:15am, there were patrons waiting to be seated.
Restaurant Report Card: Milktooth
I can cook at home; most people can. When I go out to eat, I am there for the experience, for something I can’t have at home. Here are my top three requirements:
Atmosphere = B [the table height threw me and it was chilly inside, maybe some local art? the overall vibe is a little cool…]
Service = A [our server was fab- he’ll remember I complimented him on his Best Lock key tie clip]
Food = A [excellent, exciting and fun]
Overall I’d give Milktooth an A –