Milk Bar, the Momofuku restaurant chain’s sister bakery that opened on I Street this month, offers fun and unique flavors along with ample Instagram opportunities, but ultimately falls short of the hype. Its best qualities lie in its more understated details, like spot-on food textures and savory baked goods, rather than in the tastiness of its signature desserts.
Milk Bar delivers on its experience. As guests approach the typically spilling-out-the-door line, they are greeted by a hot-pink neon “milk” sign and a quirky chalkboard menu. The store itself is small, but a few hundred yards away are outdoor tables among trees decorated with twinkling lights. This seating option is lovely on a warm night, although it will probably be less comfortable as winter approaches. My wait, while still long at around 40 minutes, was less than I expected for a newly-opened restaurant on a Friday night. Milk Bar employees move quickly, and entertaining cookbooks and signs thank customers for their patience.
It seems that nearly every customer goes to Milk Bar for one thing: its signature cereal milk soft serve. This dish provided the restaurant’s first disappointment. The ice cream costs $5 for a diminutive 4-ounce cup. In addition, the special cornflake crunch topping, which is a must-have for the true Milk Bar experience, costs an additional 75 cents. The crunchy topping frustratingly crumbles off the sides of the ice cream after it is served, but the restaurant redeems this inconvenience by adding a layer at the bottom of the cup so that the salty-sweet crunch can be enjoyed down to the last bite. The ice cream itself tastes exactly like it is billed — like milk at the bottom of your cereal bowl. While enjoyable, it could benefit from added sweetness, more like milk left from Frosted Flakes than that left by cornflakes. But to its credit, the cereal milk treat had a great creamy texture and did not melt too soon after serving, a common soft serve problem.
In addition to the cereal milk soft serve, Milk Bar’s signature cookies and the savory egg and cheddar bomb bun are musts. The bun ($4), an egg omelet folded into sriracha cream cheese, wrapped in bagel dough and doused with melted cheddar and Spanish onions, is a personal favorite. Despite its small size, the treat is filling enough to be worth its price. A recommendation: Take the cashier’s offer to warm up the bun, which leaves the dough chewy and delicious and crisps the cheese on the outer shell to provide some crunch that complements the soft fluffy egg center.
Milk Bar’s cookies, which sell for $2.25 a piece or three for $6.25, have their merits but didn’t have any wow factor. The cookies come prepackaged, which raises questions about their freshness, although it adds to the convenience of saving them for later.
The compost cookie is named for its hodge-podge ingredients of pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch chips and chocolate chips. As the Milk Bar’s most famous cookie, it should deliver a flavor experience like no other, but it sadly falls flat. The texture is perfect — chewy with a crunch from the pretzels and potato chips, however, the coffee is a bit too overpowering; for the other fun flavors to shine through.
The corn cookie, essentially cornbread in cookie form, is the best of the three. It is soft, delicious and not too sweet, although those who are not a fan of cornbread should probably avoid it. The successful chocolate-chocolate cookie manages to be a brownie-cookie hybrid without being stomach-churningly rich, thanks to the hint of salt in its flavor profile. It is, however, a little greasy.
Overall, Milk Bar is a fun place to try some innovative foods. A short walk from the Metro Center stop, it’s an easy excuse to break the Georgetown bubble. Smaller serving sizes and not-too-sweet flavors help patrons avoid that uncomfortable too-full feeling, but the prices are a bit high for the products. Although I’m already planning my next trip to try some of Milk Bar’s other crazy concoctions (I’m looking at you, cake truffles), only the egg and cheddar bomb and corn cookie were good enough for me to order again.
With excellent cookie and ice cream options close to campus, Hoyas who are looking for a new regular dessert shop may be disappointed by Milk Bar. But for those looking to try something new with a trendy Momofuku twist, Milk Bar is a great option.
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