It’s safe to say that I am a FAN of Milk and Honey. In fact, it’s safe to say that I am a fan of all the current food-related ventures in Chattanooga from owners Mike and Taylor Monen (though M&H is my favorite). The thing that astonishes me, however, is how many haters there are out there when it comes to this couple. Go have a peek at some Urbanspoon reviews for their restaurants. It’s ok. I’ll wait..
People say it’s too costly or not worthy of the hype. I’ve even heard tale of people trying to keep them from moving restaurants into certain areas because they feel like they’ve unfairly cornered the market on the local food gig. Like they just have some monopoly on it or something..
Well, haters, here is my message to you: have you ever stopped to think that there’s a reason behind the success and the hype?
Because THERE IS.
I have a substantial amount of respect for this couple because they are dedicated to a concept with their restaurants and they do it well. They always aim to bring something DIFFERENT food-wise to Chattanooga with their restaurants, which just tugs at my little foodie heart strings. And, when they decide on a concept of something that they want to bring here, they really envelop themselves in it and learn how to do it right, so they can ensure that they aren’t just making something different for the sake of having something different, but rather delivering a product of genuine quality.
Milk and Honey is Taylor’s baby. And, like I said, it’s my favorite. And MAN.. what a happy accident that this turned into a full-fledged restaurant. The original idea was to make gelato out of the Community Pie kitchen, but they kind of ran too short on kitchen space, hence Milk and Honey was born. I love this place. It’s just charming. There’s something kind of cool about the design of all the Monen restaurants in Chattanooga, but this one I especially like. It’s like an old soda shop or something. The one unfortunate aspect of that is that it’s small, but they’ve definitely done what they can to maximize the seating space.
And, oh my, the things that you can get here..
BREAKFAST – Counter Culture coffee (served at another local favorite coffeehouse, Camp House), which is just some of the tastiest dern coffee you’re likely to find in Chatt (let the lynchings commence from the fans of Stone Cup, Velo, etcetera). Breakfast sandwiches and biscuits – the bacon egg and cheese (on ciabatta with vinegar mayo and aged white cheddar) is simple but great, the S.O.S. (spinach, onion, sausage) is too, the ham and apple sandwich, the Farmhouse Biscuit, the MEGA Biscuit, the BYOB (Build Your Own Breakfast) options, steel-cut oatmeal, house-made bagels, etc. Then there’s a rotating breakfast special called the Morning Glory. A recent one was sausage and potato hash, for instance.
BRUNCH/LUNCH – there are some sandwiches that have turned into regulars for lunch, but the “Nooner” (rotating lunch special) is where you’ll find my favorites. The Milk and Honey burger, for instance, is just awesome and, due to its popularity, has been present quite frequently as of late. The big surprise for me was that it was so different than the burgers available at the Monens’ burger joint, Urban Stack (perhaps this is just another example of that whole not just doing things for the sake of doing them, but for the sake of offering a quality product concept). They grind the meat themselves (a blend of sirloin, chuck, and brisket), then top it with Benton’s bacon, four-cheese fondue sauce, and oven-dried tomatoes. It is ridiculously juicy and delicious. The blackened grouper sandwich was an awesome special too, though I’ve only seen it once. Also, the brunch specials (generally just available on the weekends) are great too. The French toast made with brioche is excellent, for instance. That thick bread is so so so very perfect for this application. Also, the chicken and waffles with honey hot sauce and Chattanooga Whiskey maple syrup was easily one of (if not the absolute. I’ll get to back to you on that) my favorites available in Chatt. The whiskey maple syrup especially was phenomenal (though, sadly, when they have offered the dish again more recently, it has been with plain-ol’ maple syrup, though that is delicious in its own right).
DESSERT – Gelato (of course), sorbets, paletas (which I am beyond thrilled to see becoming A THING in Chattanooga – we really love Las Paletas in Nashville), cookies, salted caramels, cake, etc. This again ties back to what I was saying earlier about the Monens learning to do something RIGHT when they decide to do something. I have never been convinced that gelato was a good thing.. until now. I’m not sure what it was. Maybe it just wasn’t made with quality ingredients or something. I don’t know. I’ve just never been sold on it. M&H totally changed my mind on that. Their gelatos are creamy and delicious. I really love too that Taylor keeps the flavors fresh by constantly switching up what’s available. Furthermore, M&H runs a weekly contest via Facebook where people can win a $20 gift card if their “flavor of the week” suggestion is chosen. There are hits and misses certainly, especially since somebody clearly likes to pick the more interesting-sounding options. I had one picked back in June called Tipsy Peach, with Chattanooga Whiskey and local peaches. Yummy, yummy stuff.
Also, you can always make yourself a delicious float with any gelato and Italian soda or some Pure Sodaworks soda. And one of my simple but awesome favorite things to do is just a dark roast coffee with Milk and Honey (their vanilla, basically) flavored gelato in it.
They also really, really love to use local ingredients, which is frickin’ awesome.
Again, I just love Milk and Honey. It’s a great breakfast joint, coffee spot, or dessert spot. It’s a charming concept that has been well-executed. It’s a good complement to Community Pie, Taco Mamacita, and Urban Stack. And, last, but surely not least, the staff (shout-out to Lauren, especially) is very friendly and helpful.
I should hope you have been there already.
If you haven’t, then why the hell not? Get on it.