When following the advice of health experts to eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince and dinner like a Pauper, going out to breakfast can be the highlight of the day in Indianapolis, Indiana. Combine the time of day with a farm to table concept of serving fresh, local ingredients, and health prospects improve. Now, add a menu where the combination of ingredients is so intriguing it is stimulating just imagining how the final presentation will taste. Throw in a creative cocktail, and who is unhappy? When breakfast arrives, the happiness quotient is even higher. Isn’t being happy good for our health too?
Thanks to Chef Jonathan Brooks and his wife and business partner Ashley Brooks, Milktooth, 543 Virginia Avenue, in the historic Fletcher Place neighborhood of downtown Indy, serves brunch that will make you forget what time it is. Open just over a year, the restaurant has exceeded the expectations of its creators.
The mindfulness and good intention infused into the creation of this place can be felt from the moment you drive into the parking lot. The Brooks repurposed an old transmission shop, leaving three garage doors that can be opened in the summer to bring fresh air into the restaurant. They kept one of the car lifts, adding a table top which is now one of two large community tables.
The first thing noticeable when driving into the parking lot is the garden. The parking lot garden grows herbs, greens, peppers and other vegetables used in the restaurant. When the harvest is more abundant than the restaurant can use, the extra is donated to a local food pantry.
Recycling and repurposing has been an intention of the Brooks as they created the restaurant. The dishes are the outcome of two years of thrifting, and some even belonged to Jon’s grandmother. Nostalgia is an important component for them. “The mid century modern chairs we procured from a local salvage vendor and the others we purchased online and came from the old IU Bloomington library. “ Ashley explained.” We definitely recycle – everything we can, including the menus we reprint everyday. We try to reuse and repurpose whatever we can and everything else gets recycled or composted.”
Staying true to themselves and making Milktooth an extension of not just their personalities but of the community they live in is important to this culinary couple. “We have a lot of artists and musicians that are friends who also work here,” Ashley commented. “Some have been loyal employees since the opening a year ago. All of the artwork has been hand crafted by local artists and friends.” Many of the employees live in the neighborhood and walk or ride bikes to work, supporting the environmentally healthy intentions of this community.
Free Wi-Fi is available, and Ashley and Jon hope more people will come in for a coffee and pastry during the week, feeling comfortable enough to hang out for a couple of hours and catch up on email, or get some work done.
Pastry Chef Zoe Taylor makes all of the wonderful pastries in house and from scratch every day. Everything is baked fresh and when they sell out they sell out. Zoe recently received an accolade from Bon Appétit – Best Desserts in the Country- for her gluten free honey whey cake. Speaking of recycling, Zoe uses the whey leftover from the house made ricotta in her recipe.
Alan and Amy McKamey, owners of Heritage Meadows Farms in Clayton, Indiana provide the fresh duck eggs for the restaurant. The demand has grown so quickly they currently have a crowd funding campaign going to raise money to fund the expansion of their pasture fencing to meet the needs of the local community’s desire for fresh eggs.
The Booze menu is impressive for a place that opens at 7 am and is finished serving by 3 pm. From 7-9 am Milktooth is open for coffee and pastries at the counter only. The full menu is offered from 9 am to 3 pm, with daily drink features on the chalk board and a bar menu divided into categories like Bubbles and Blood, Bottles and Cans, Pitchers, Spirits, Wine and Shots. Craft cocktails, craft beers, and suggestions for some rare picks of shots involving rye, mescal or absinthe will make the diner think twice about ordering just another cup of coffee.
There are no menu markings for vegan, vegetarian or gluten free, so eat at your own risk. While the restaurant will try to accommodate for allergies, the bottom of the menu firmly states, “Modifications Politely Declined.” Would you ask Picasso to touch up a painting to your liking? These artisans demand the same respect, and I don’t think you will be disappointed if you give it to them.