Don’t let a humble name like Milk Crate fool you. If you were expecting a cramped corner café specialising in run-of-the-mill coffee and lunch-box food you’re in for a surprise.
Tucked under an office building off Marcus Clarke Street near NewActon, the cafe is a cool haven in the summer and a toasty hideout in the winter. Milk Crate’s large space boasts soaring ceilings, with a large curved glass wall overlooking a vast terrace decked out with a hodgepodge of table topped milk crates.
Priding themselves on using seasonal produce, the menu is guaranteed to show ingredients at their best. There is a definite Turkish vibe running through the dishes so there is plenty of zaatar, fetta and tomato to be found, but that has not limited the chef in the slightest.
In fact, the menu is the edible manifestation of the chef’s travel journals in which he recorded inspiring flavours and textures he came across. A quick glance over the menu further reveals a playful vibe with dishes to make you chuckle, like Borek Fast, an ode to the traditional Turkish Borek. Served like a wedge of pie, layers of flaky pastry, crisp and golden, encasing a rich filling of spinach, fetta and mozzarella.
It is accompanied by a tomato and lentil sugo, which sweetness is balanced by the salty fetta of the borek, the thinly sliced pastirma (traditional Turkish cured meat) and a scattering of dried olives on the top.
It is fortuitous that it is an all-day breakfast menu, because the Hakshuka is the perfect meal for any time of day. The Hakshuka is the Milk Crate version of a Shakshuka, the Turkish dish of baked eggs. A comforting and soul-satisfying meal, two soft eggs are baked in a rich tomato sugo, which is silky and luscious.
Baked on top are sliced discs of sujuk, a dry sausage similar to salami but spiced with flavours that will conjure up images of a bustling Turkish bazaar. This delicacy seasons the dish with its rich saltiness and hint of heat. Wedges of soft flatbread topped with the earthy flavours of zaatar are piled beside the baked eggs, ready for you to mop up every drop of sauce.
Prepared for the lunchtime rush, there are a number of creative toasties as quick and easy choices, but if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous go for the Cured Salmon Burger. A soft brioche roll is a delicate match for the fresh flavours of mango and young coconut slaw, bursting with juicy mango slices, crunchy cabbage straws and zingy red onion.
A thick pink fillet of succulent salmon peeks out from underneath the tangle of slaw, an enriching and crunchy grilled skin to be discovered in every bite. A creamy sriracha mayo caps it all off, adding its richness and spicy hit to the sweet and refreshing mango and coconut flavours. Summer in a burger.
The Pulled Shank Salad is a delightfully quirky mix of flavours and textures that come together successfully in a flavoursome salad that won’t leave you hungry. Crunchy rocket leaves are tossed with succulent lamb that has that melt in your mouth texture and deep meaty flavour. The freshness of stone fruit slices balances the rich lamb, while candied pecans lift the dish with sweet, crunchy bursts. Roast potatoes are also tossed in the mix and transform the dish into a hearty lunch.
With such a diverse offering of drinks, sweets and meals, Milk Crate is the ideal destination for a coffee break or work lunch during the week, drinks on the terrace in the evening or brunch on a Saturday morning.