The Route 96 tram terminus in East Brunswick sits at an intersection that has been 'deep cool' in waiting. Over the years, a motley collection of shops have stood either vacant or variously housed an eclectic assortment of businesses: the silver top taxi club, 'psychic rainbow', the museum of experimental art, a pizza shop and a tattoo parlour. It always looked a little forlorn and forgotten to me when I passed through on the 508 bus. But that was many years ago and times have changed. There are now three cafes, the Lomond Hotel seems busier than ever and 3RRR sits on the corner of Blyth and Nicholson Streets. The renaissance has begun in earnest.
Milkwood sits directly across from this terminus. It was with some excitement that I went there last Sunday for breakfast, as S. has been riding his bike over to the Route 96 of a morning and grabbing a coffee (and occasionally a cake) at Milkwood before jumping on the tram to go to work. He's been singing its praises for weeks now.
First, let me get out the way the things that I didn't like, because there's actually a lot to like about Milkwood:
- My knife and fork being set back to front. Etiquette dictates a correct way to set tables and position the cutlery. I wish this was adhered to more regularly.
- A hair in my food.
- The noise levels. The white-washed brick walls look fab. But with no sound insulation, a high ceiling and wood floors the noise level made it difficult to hear others.
- Snow pea shoots used to garnish my dish. Why do people persist in using these? They're fibrous, chewy and tasteless. And so...90s.
Now, to what I did like - the food. I had a special, smashed peas & broad beans with mint & pecorino on sourdough with poached eggs. What a wonderful spring breakfast dish! So flavoursome and fresh, I could simply have had the peas, broad beans and mint mixture on toast and I would have been happy. I wanted more, I wanted to keep eating it and eating it, rapturous in its simplicity and flavour. The poached eggs had rich, golden yolks. Perhaps they could have been a little more runny, but this is a small quibble.
S. had the ricotta pancakes with coconut, banana & honey yoghurt. These were served as a generous stack of three, large and flecked with toasted coconut. The yoghurt provided a tangy contrast to the fluffy, light pancakes and the sweetness provided by the honey and bananas.
The service at Milkwood was attentive and friendly. Coffee orders were taken the moment we sat down (the coffee used is Coffee Supreme). A query from me about their gluten-free bread was followed up immediately and I was informed that it was an artisan bread. In a conversation after our meal with another staff member, querying whether we had enjoyed it, we were told that it came from Fatto a Mano on Gertrude Street, Collingwood. It was delicious. I'll be visiting this bakery sometime in the coming week!
Despite the noise, the space at Milkwood is bright and airy. It is a small space and can get busy on the weekend (I think I counted six tables inside, some bench space and a couple of tables outside). The food makes the most of seasonal produce in a very small kitchen. The staff are welcoming and service is attentive. Importantly for me, they offer gluten-free options so I can enjoy a wheat-free meal or sweet treat. It is a very enjoyable cafe in which to enjoy breakfast or lunch, or grab a coffee and snack before getting on the tram to the city.
If you go, do the right thing and catch the tram there. Parking is difficult in the area. And don't forget that the Route 96 is one of National Geographic's Top 10 tram journeys of the world. We will definitely be going back to try some more of their breakfast offerings.
Smashed peas & broad beans with mint & pecorino on sourdough with poached eggs - $15
Ricotta pancakes with coconut, bananas & honey yoghurt - $13.50
Coffee - $3.20
120 Nicholson Street