It is time to grip your oyster card tight and hop on the northern line to south London to take yourself to Milk in Balham. Yes, even you north Londoners with a fear of everything south of the river. (Right? I mean I used to be a north Londoner, but I did travel south!). A local café for me, but a London destination for brunch for many Londoners. Milk is one of the best cafés in London for both coffee and food, with a creative exciting menu and weekly specials (well documented on my instagram as I am a regular there). I am sure that Milk has been on your list but you do need to start paying attention now as Milk have raised their game with Milk Lates.
Fresh masa taco with crispy pigs head, corn & greengage salsa, fermented English rhubarb, crema & lime at Milk.
Jerk pork ribs, pickled burnt pineapple, nira and coconut oil mayo at Milk.
Milk started doing infrequent pop ups and Milk Lates in the evenings last year. Now Milk Lates is to become a regular fixture from 6.30pm to 11pm on Thursdays to Saturdays.
Spring veg and peas in elderflower broth with duck ham and my favourite, their take on the fillet o’ fish sandwich with snapper.
Poached Arlington white eggs on Brixton sourdough with pumpkin seed salt and safflower. Smashed avocado on the side.
At Milk Lates, the menu is laid out like a dim sum order with a pencil to mark your choices. Everything is made in house, even the mortadella. Where Milk succeeds is in their attention to detail and their sourcing. Always full flavoured, never shy.
Enthusiasm dictated that I might over order, and I did, but I didn’t regret it. I started with the wild rabbit and hazelnut mortadella. With a slightly coarse texture, this was wonderful. I savoured each slice. I had a glass of Pét-Nat with it (short for Pétillant-naturel, naturally sparkling wines made in the méthode ancestrale, generally unfiltered).
Pumpkin with pickled walnut sambal and candlenut was gorgeous, sweet sour and rich, with crisp sheet of what I presume was candied candlenut as I forgot to ask, broken into shards on top.
Pot sticker chicken dumplings were light, the star here was the lap cheong broth which cradled them and vibrant XO on top.
Braised pork rib gua bao with pickled melon rind was on of the best dishes that I have had in months. One of those rare perfect dishes that satisfies on every level. Rich pork rib meat encased in a closed steamed bao with a crisp sesame seed coated bottom. On top, crisp onions, lotus root crisps and seasoned oil.
I will be back. Again, and again. To try more wines, and new dishes as they are added to the menu. And that glorious bao. Divine.
I paid £35, this depends on how much you eat, and how much wine you drink also, naturally, but I think that this is a good benchmark. Milk work hard to keep their prices down while sourcing excellent ingredients and going the extra mile with technique in their small kitchen.
Milk Lates is intimate, I walked in and got a table but I would book, just in case. It is sure to get busy. Enjoy the natural wines at Milk, but do save some room for the Wine Tasting Shop across the road. Another local favourite, a terrific and fun wine boutique with a great selection to bring home and also drink at the bar or at tables in the shop.
Milk, I salute you! I look forward to the next time.
Milk, 20 Bedford Hill, London SW12 9RG, 020 8772 9085