We love pretty spaces and pretty food but, even more, food needs to taste great and be good for us. It’s the fuel we choose, after all. Sometimes these factors don’t all come together. Sometimes Instagram leads to unrealistic expectations and, in the ‘flesh’, the food experience disappoints.
Opened by the very creative Morgan Walsh and partner Mary Steel in the shop formerly occupied by Steele & Co., The Milkman’s Daughter is as relevant to its customers as Vintage was when Andrew and Jodie Whiting opened a café in this space nine years ago. (The Milkman’s Daughter has since been sold to a new owner.)
Thankfully, it’s a place where ‘pretty’ and ‘tasty’ meet. Gorgeous enough to send millennials into a ‘perf’ rave about their new ‘fave’, our meals at The Milkman’s Daughter not only meet all the criteria of our disparate group, but they’re also exceptionally delicious and nutritious.
Yes, the venue is still awkwardly tiny enough to drive us outdoors, but the pair have made the most of the space by adding cute booths along the back wall, high tables in the middle and seating looking out to the street. Extra dining areas wrap around the front of the café and down the laneway. Cosy or breezy – choose your seat.
The décor is very beach-blonde pretty, with the colours of bleached white and sand lit up even more by pops of light and greenery. Selfie worthy? OK, if you have to!
First and foremost – coffee. The café window has always been a popular coffee pickup point, the ladies continuing the trend using a local blend, Paradox Coffee.
But it’s the food that really takes our fancy.
Yes, all the bases are covered (gluten-free, dairy free and vegan catered for) on a vegetarian all-day menu, but it’s far more than that.
Morgan’s food is inventive in a wholistic food sense without trying to mimic meat dishes. It’s acknowledgement that much of the food we eat is vegetarian anyway. Without banging on with anti-meat and ‘cruelty-free’ messages, instead the pair succeed in showing us what great plant-based food looks and tastes like.
Generous in size, there’s sound technique in reduction sauces and slow-cooked eggs, top grade, niche and ‘of the moment’ ingredients, to bring us plates bursting in colour and flavour.
Tried and true favourite dishes are turned on their heads with a fresh eye and new combinations to delight and surprise us. Lemon ricotta pancakes come with custard cream, candied walnuts and peach ($17) and porridge becomes Truffled savoury oats and grains with asparagus, truffled cheese, brussel sprouts and a slow-cooked eggy ($18). There’s even a burger, whose substantial ‘veef’ pattie only adds to the vegie loading of deliciousness. Thank God it’s the only faux meat in sight!
Meanwhile, I’m tucking into the Bruschetta, unsurprisingly one of the café’s bestsellers, its vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh basil, olives and beetroot reduction complemented by soft bocconcini on sourdough a garden of delight. A top dish!
Several of Morgan’s former menus poke their head into The Milkman’s Daughter: Breaky tacos and Loaded nachos in the style of Bonita Bonita and a Green Bowl reminiscent of the goodness of Poke Poke’s bowls.
While the café’s name insinuates a less-than-proper heritage, The Milkman’s Daughter fits right in with our dining needs and wants. In our eyes, it’s the best new vegetarian food on the coast.
1/43 Alfred Street, Mermaid Beach Ph: 07 5627 0880