Milk and Honey is a popular spot on Chattanooga’s North Shore serving breakfast, lunch, gelato, sorbet, housemade paletas (popsicles), & a variety of drinks.
Drawing on their backgrounds in the restaurant business, Mike and Taylor Monen started Taco Mamacita (read my reviews here and here) in 2008 and haven’t looked back. It seems that they have built a restaurant empire in Chattanooga, adding Urban Stack Burger Lounge in 2010 (read my review here), Community Pie early this year (read my review here), and Milk & Honey just last month (they also have Taco Mamacita locations in Nashville and Sullivan’s Island, SC). Milk and Honey is the answer to the lack of desserts at the Monen’s restaurants. According to Lauren Evans, Operating Partner, Taylor (who masterminded all the recipes at Milk and Honey) had always dreamed of opening a sweets shop and the need to add desserts to their menus provided the perfect opportunity to start a shop that would operate as its own entity but also provide desserts for their other restaurants: paletas (fresh fruit popsicles) for Taco Mamacita, gelato as the base for Urban Stack’s milkshakes, and gelato for Community Pie.
When I arrived at Milk and Honey at 3:30 on a Tuesday afternoon to chat with Lauren, the space was teeming with afterschoolers seeking a treat….I saw a lot of popsicles and cookies (thumbprints and cereal bar cookies) being consumed. The line was out the door but was quickly moved along by cute and friendly girls wearing shirts that said “Let’s Spoon” on the back. The black and white color scheme of the shop permeates every facet, down to the straws (pictured below).
There are a few booths inside the shop plus stools at the counter, but I have a feeling the real draw for diners here is the open seating area by the entrance. A long counter runs along the front wall with seating on either side, so you can sit outside or inside and enjoy the weather on a nice day. A sandwich board proclaims not only the gelato and sorbet flavors for the day but also the “nooner” and other lunch items. The nooner is the lunch special, which is served from 11 a.m. until it runs out and changes weekly. When I visited, the nooner was a NY-style corned beef Reuben.
A chalkboard style menu showcases all of the amazing and unique creations, from coffee drinks, tea, and homemade ginger ale to housemade gelato (which is Italian ice cream, made with milk and denser than American-style ice cream) and sorbet (in rotating flavors that are never the same as what are being offered at Community Pie), the colorful paletas (also in rotating flavors), and breakfast served daily from 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. (and sometimes later) Monday-Friday and until 3 p.m. as Saturday and Sunday brunch (they even provide carhop service!). The muffin of the day, the Milk & Honey birthday cake, cookies, granola, handmade caramels, and caramel popcorn in beautiful displays round out the countertop accoutrements. Milk & Honey obtains as many ingredients as possible from local sources like Pure Sodaworks, Benton’s, and Sequatchie Cove, which you know is a Chattavore plus!
I spent a few minutes talking to Lauren about the shop. The opening of the shop has been met with overwhelming enthusiasm from the community. I asked Lauren if there was a time that they weren’t crowded, and she said that indeed, 4-8 p.m. on weeknights provides some relief from the crowds (I imagine that once school is out that window will shrink a little bit). The weekends, however, are busy from 9 a.m. to 10:45 p.m. (and they close at 10!). It has been a bit of a learning experience for these restaurant business veterans, who are used to the traditional busy times (lunch and dinner times). Because people tend to gravitate toward Milk & Honey for dessert, the shop gets busy at later times than a traditional restaurant would.
When I asked Lauren what her favorite items on the menu are, she told me that her favorite drink is the horchata latte: a double-shot of espresso with horchata (a sweetened rice milk flavored with cinnamon). Her favorite dessert item is the stracciatella gelato, which is made with the signature milk & honey flavored gelato layered with housemade magic shell that eventually gets crunched up to make a unique chocolate chip gelato. Her favorite breakfast item? The mega biscuit, which features red pepper spread, eggs, sausage, white cheddar, onion, shallots, and spinach. Her favorite lunch item is the turkey & brie pita with raspberry preserves. The biggest sellers overall have been the gelatos and the coffee drinks.
While I was intrigued by Lauren’s favorite horchata latte and have heard that the coconut milk latte is to die for, the lavender & honey latte grabbed my attention, since I am obsessed with all things lavender flavored (as evidenced here, here, and here). For $4.53 I got a small latte ($3.75) and a thumbprint cookie ($0.40). While the coffee tasted great, I was a little sad that I didn’t really taste the lavender, which is infused into the honey….however, I have been inspired to try to make a super-lavender flavored coffee creamer (with half and half, of course) at home (maybe I’ll share that with you all later!) and next time I’m definitely trying the coconut latte. Or the horchata latte. We shall see. The cookie was delicious, with a crumby (not soft) texture and a lovely almond flavor. My friend who met me after I talked with Lauren decided on the burnt sugar gelato and a thumbprint cookie. I didn’t taste her gelato but she said that it was indeed pretty tasty. I can’t wait to return to try breakfast…and lunch…and every flavor of gelato, sorbet, and paleta under the sun (except maybe the ones that have habanero in them…)!
Even if you don’t have the chance to make it by Milk and Honey for a while, you can find them all over the community. As I said before, you can find their wares at Taco Mamacita, Urban Stack, and Community Pie….but you can also find the “Ollie Pop” at Elemental, a new restaurant located by Whole Foods Market. The Ollie Pop is a brown-cow style popsicle featuring vanilla gelato (though they have used other flavors, like banana) dipped in chocolate. You will also be able to find their products in a case at Enzo’s Market on Main Street, which will be opening on May 10. They’ll be selling paletas, gelato, and coffee at the Chattanooga Market on Sundays.
Milk and Honey is located at 135 North Market Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402 (next to Taco Mamacita). You can call them at 423-521-3123. You can also check out their website, http://milkandhoneychattanooga.com, or you can find them on Facebook.