Calm down, Changophiles—it's not one of those Milk Bars. In parts of Australia, where this Milk Bar's owners hail from, the term in fact refers to a local shop or general store. But this just-opened Prospect Heights spot is neither that, nor a branch of the Momofuku empire, but an airy, comfortable Vanderbilt Avenue space serving Counter Culture coffee by day, beer and wine by night, and remarkably well-crafted café fare at all hours.
Though coffee purists might sneer, a Counter Culture cappuccino ($3.25) comes topped with a sprinkle of just-sweetened cocoa. (One of my favorite things about living in London—the default cappuccino was full-fat with chocolate on top. Not my usual order, but who was I to flout local tradition?)
The real sweet tooth can opt for "Australian iced coffee," an affogato-meets-latte with a shot of espresso over vanilla ice cream, topped off with milk.
While most of the baked goods come from Sullivan Street Bakery—hello, bombolini!—Milk Bar's muffins, sometimes sweet, sometimes savory, aren't available elsewhere; they're baked by the owner's friend at Betty Bakery. This gorgeous havarti and herb number was incredibly moist, studded with hunks of cheese and the occasional nibble of caraway. About as perfect as a muffin could be.
Above is a half order of full eggs ($6)—got that? "Full eggs" entail a poached egg atop an open-faced ham, Gruyere, and tomato "toastie." On a massive platform of just-crunchy bread, still soft in the middle, with particularly smoky ham and a runny egg on top, these were executed brilliantly. A full order of full eggs ($9) clocks in at twice this size. There's also a veggie version, sans ham.
Bircher muesli ($7) walks just the right line of oaty and fruity—nicely softened grains and plump, juicy raisins topped with more fruit and Greek yogurt.
On whole grain bread with what seems like a whole avocado spread on top, the avocado toast ($4) delivers a powerful kick of salt and cayenne.
Milk Bar also has a full line of sandwiches (many on Sullivan Street bread). This salami ($9) is the sandwich of my lunchbox dreams, with arugula, punchy pickle relish, and surprisingly sweet tomato. It's hard to imagine it improved upon.
There may not be crack pie or pork buns on the menu, but for breakfast and sandwiches, this Prospect Heights newcomer is a fantastic addition to the neighborhood. Sidewalk seating, a friendly, relaxed feel, and eggs this perfect—I'm a convert already.