The exterior of Milk & Honey on North Market Street. (Photo: Staff)

This week, Monica and I visited Milk & Honey at 135 N. Market St. for an early breakfast and much needed stout coffee. Goodness, this week has been a strange one with a holiday in the middle and two work days bookending it. It’s amazing how little work you can get done with the week split up like that.

Monica and I attended a friend’s cookout on Wednesday for the Fourth of July and ate way too much food. I didn’t think I would be hungry enough to eat anything this morning, but there I was ordering the biggest damn biscuit on the Milk and Honey menu.

Atmosphere/service
Milk & Honey is a Monen Family restaurant. If you’ve lived in Chattanooga for a bit you’ve probably eaten at a Monen establishment — Community Pie, Taco Mamacita, Hi-Fi Clyde’s and Urban Stack. Both Hi-Fi Clyde’s and Milk & Honey now have locations in Nashville, too. According to their website, Milk & Honey’s flagship store opened in 2013 adjacent to Taco Mamacita. The restaurant became known for “authentic homemade gelato,” Stumptown espresso and coffee, homemade sweets and treats, pastries, breakfast and lunch items. You can also find a daily Milk & Honey morning pop-up with select coffee drinks, gelato and breakfast items at Community Pie downtown.

The North Market Street location can get crowded on the weekends, but you shouldn’t have to wait in too long of a line if you arrive before 9 a.m. during the week. I’ve noticed morning crowds tend to increase whenever a large athletic event is in town — Ironman, regattas, triathlons, marathons etc. Milk & Honey must be the Chattanooga Visitors Bureau’s go-to breakfast recommendation for athletes and their families.

Where to look? The display cases, chalkboard menu and more. (Photo: Staff)

Upon entry into the building, you’ll notice a display case with a rotating list of gelato flavors. Gelato, if you didn’t know, is just the Italian word for “ice cream.” Gelato tends to be a bit denser than ice cream with more robust flavoring — sort of like sorbet. In other words, it’s pretty amazing. I like the pistachio flavor. The second thing you’ll notice is an enormous wraparound chalk menu that is impossible to digest with human eyeballs. There are words everywhere and the black & white tile is like a Magic Eye illusion (see above photo). The woman at the register noticed my anxiety and handed me a paper menu. Monica was meeting me for breakfast because she had to be somewhere for work after our meal. I arrived a bit early and ordered our food and some coffee.

mmmm … dark coffee. (Photo: Staff)

Food
At Milk & Honey, they cater to both the annoyingly health-minded among us and to the gluttonous damn-it-all eaters. Monica is the former and, as ashamed as I am to admit it, I am the latter for this article. She has recently joined Lookout Fitness and often comes home describing accounts of terrible experiences that include burpees, box-jumping, something called “running” and other torturous activities. I’m happy she likes it, though. On this morning, I received a text from her with the words “veggie egg-white omelet and black coffee.” I ordered verbatim.

The omelet contains no yolks, folks. It’s all egg whites and marinated veggies, wilted spinach, white cheddar, caramelized onions and a sun-dried tomato spread. Each breakfast comes with either a whole banana or the season fruit (pineapple). You can get fresh berries for an extra $1.50. I try to be conscious of juxtaposition when I’m writing these columns. If Monica orders the fish, I’m not also going to have the fish. Why would we both order the same thing? So, I thought to myself “what item on the menu could go up against her egg-white veggie omelet?” and I came up with an old favorite: the massive Farmhouse Biscuit.

The Farmhouse biscuit. (Photo: Staff)

I’m no stranger to this biscuit. We have met before — several times — and each time it is a pleasure. The Farmhouse Biscuit has everything you might find at a farm but dirt: breakfast sausage, Benton’s Bacon, tomato jam, egg, arugula, white cheddar, caramelized onions and shallots on a homemade buttermilk biscuit. It is enormous and would easily be the most ridiculous, gluttonous item on the menu if the Elvis sandwich didn’t exist. To order the Farmhouse Biscuit is to enjoy your one meal for the day. Your body does not require, nor could it contain additional sustenance.

Monica’s omelet was cooked to perfection and she enjoyed every bite. Our Stumptown coffee was also bold and delicious. I make weak coffee at home, so an in-your-face dark blend is a special treat. My biscuit was huge and full of interesting flavors. As someone who eats a lot of biscuits, the flavors of the Farmhouse are special thanks to the tomato jam. Sugar and tomatoes, with a bit of lemon (and ginger?), give the jam a tangy sweetness that you wouldn’t get from even the best sliced tomatoes. I can’t recommend the Farmhouse enough.

Egg white omelet with a banana for scale. (Photo: Staff)

Of the breakfast items offered, I’ve tried and enjoyed the steel-cut oatmeal, the bacon, egg and cheese biscuit (a little more manageable than the Farmhouse) and KY Nova Lox Bagel which is always a favorite. Milk & Honey also offers a Build Your Own Breakfast (B.Y.O.B.) starting at $6. I’ll probably try that one day.

Would we go back?
Milk & Honey is a special treat. That goes for the gelato and breakfasts, which aren’t the cheapest in town but worth the extra dollars every once in a while. This location is a great place to bring visitors for an impressive breakfast, quick service, good coffee and the convenience to the downtown. The menu has something for every type of eater. We’ll definitely be back.

The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.