Manhattan, New York – Milk Street Cafe

Restaurant: Milk Street Cafe
Cuisine: International/Kosher/Bakery/American/Cafe
Last visited: September 6, 2011
Location: Manhattan, NY (Financial District)
Address: 40 Wall Street (Inside the Donald Trump building)
Nearby subway stop: Wall Street
Price Range: $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Opened 2011
  • International upscale food court
  • Lunch time business crowd
  • Very extensive menu
  • Made in house daily
  • Fresh ingredients
  • Casual/clean
  • Kosher
  • Healthy options
  • Vegetarian friendly
  • Catering available
  • Eat In/Take Out
  • Mon-Thu 6:30am-9pm; Fri 6:30am-3pm

**Recommendations: Sushi Bar, Salmon Teriyaki, Salad Bar, Sticky Buns, Chocolate Tart with Peanuts and Salted Caramel, Cheesecakes, Banana Coconut Cream Pie

Yeah I bet with that first photo you didn’t expect I’d be blogging about a food court. This isn’t just any food court though, this is a gourmet international food court. That picture might have made you think I meant Momofuku Milk Bar (which I blogged about here), but no, they’re completely unrelated. Welcome to Milk Street! And no, it doesn’t sell milk either. Well it does, but it’s not “milk focused” in any way.

The name actually comes from its first location, which is on Milk Street in the Financial District of Boston. This is the second location which just opened summer this year. I had no idea what to expect, but I was pleased to be invited to check it out.

This post is definitely going to be more for New Yorkers than it would be for tourists. It’s not a “foodie destination”, but if I lived and worked in the Financial District of New York, I’d consider this a solid choice for a quick coffee, casual lunch or even take home dinner.

This is better and classier than your standard shopping mall food court and closer to the food court you would find at Whole Foods. It’s not as grand as Whole Foods, and it’s not all local or organic, although they source locally where possible. Everything is made in house daily and every department has its designated chef, so there is a quality and professionalism in what they’re serving.

To determine what the food court would feature, they actually surveyed the building to see what people would want. The results didn’t surprise me. When it comes to food, the Financial District actually doesn’t offer much, so this is kind of the answer to it all. The selection is definitely there whether you’re coming for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a small snack.

Okay now brace yourself. You’re about to see a lot of food. The amount of food I tried may look like a lot, but what I had only represents maybe 5% of their menu if not less. Milk Street Cafe offers everything under the roof, so there’s really something for everyone. It’s a good option for those in the area looking for a quick and convenient quality lunch or take out dinner at a reasonable price.

So Follow Me Foodie and I’ll guide you through the Milk Street Cafe dining hall…

On the table:

Salad Bar

It is 100% Kosher so the meats and vegetables are completely separated at the salad bar. The salad bar was enticing and that’s coming from me, someone who rarely orders salad. I do enjoy them, but I find them too easy to make at home. They offer a few signature salads, or you can customize your own, and the selection of vegetables, meats, cheese, and dressings are endless. All ingredients for their salads come from local Farmers Markets.

**Rockport Farmer’s Market Salad4.5/6

  • Roasted pears, goat cheese, grapes, pistachios, dried cranberries, mixed field greens, honey balsamic vinaigrette $10.50
  • This was one of the signature salads and I loved all of the fresh ingredients.
  • It was pretty straight forward and it had a decent amount of each ingredient listed.
  • It was a sweet and savoury salad, but a bit sweet for me because of the honey in the dressing and then the already sweet fruits.
  • The honey balsamic vinaigrette was creamy and it’s not as sharp, and I just wanted a bit more tang and a little less honey.
  • The roasted pears almost seemed stewed in perhaps some cinnamon and sugar so they were also quite sweet, but very tender and almost dessert like.
  • The savoury aspect was mainly the goat cheese which was nice and creamy and salty and not too pungent and overwhelming.
  • The green and red grapes were great juicy additions and the cranberries gave it the tartness.
  • There was a fair amount of whole pistachios, which I loved, and there were a lot of textures which is always key to a great salad.
  • It was quite a gourmet pairing of fruits and nuts so it was almost like a cheese plate in salad form.

Rotisserie/Grill/Sandwiches

They actually prepare whole roast chickens ($15.95) so this section is popular for take home dinners as well. The rotisserie sandwiches included turkey, Montreal Smoked Beef and BBQ beef brisket. Being in New York I was surprised they didn’t offer pastrami, but I guess Montreal Smoked Beef is similar.

There’s even a “Turkey Festival”, so bachelors who don’t cook… Thanksgiving awaits!

Rotisserie Quarter Chicken4/6

  • $8.95
  • The chicken is slowly roasted and it was quite gourmet coming out of a food court.
  • For the area, this was actually a pretty good deal considering the quality of the chicken.
  • The chicken was a bit on the dry side, but being that it was white meat I knew it was going to be. However it could have still been juicier even for white meat.
  • The herb rub was well made though. It was a tad on the salty side, but there was lots of herbs including rosemary and thyme and it did its job adding flavour.
  • Crispy skin on the chicken would have been great as well.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes 3/6

  • The flavour was better than the texture, but they were still pretty good.
  • They were quite starchy and made with skin on Russet potatoes and it could have been a bit more moist.
  • It was a bit dense and stiff rather the creamy and smooth, but the flavour was rich with butter and garlic which is of course delicious.
  • I know garlic mashed potatoes is pretty normal, but they were still good here.

Green Beans with Almonds3/6

  • The beans were fresh, crunchy and well prepared and I did love the added almonds.
  • Again, it wasn’t brain surgery, but it was still good.
  • I actually ate these with the goat’s cheese from my Rockport Salad which was great!

Chicken Soup3.5/6

  • The chicken soup didn’t have much chicken, noodles or vegetables, but the flavour of the soup was a stand out! It was good enough for me to overlook the minimal ingredients in it.
  • This was gourmet chicken soup, which was no surprise considering they must be using the bones from the rotisserie chicken.
  • It wasn’t too oily, but I could actually taste real chicken in the stock.
  • The noodles were too soft and everything else was very meh, but the stock… they could sell the stock!
  • It also had a little heat at the end and a nice spice to it which was unexpected, but I liked it.

Asian (Japanese/Chinese)

Of course it had to have a sushi bar! To be honest I really questioned this. I never get sushi from a food court because quite often it’s “supermarket sushi”. However, this was good! I was surprised. I even went to the grocery store next door to do some price checks and comparisons. It was pretty much the same price (maybe $1 less for something similar), but the quality wasn’t as high and there’s nowhere to sit.

The sushi bar does a lot of catering and the quality of sashimi was actually not bad. Being Asian and from Vancouver, BC, I come from high standards for Japanese and sushi. This wasn’t the best sushi in New York of course, but it was fresh, and I wasn’t disappointed by it and I kind of expected to be.

The Chinese section was on the other side of the sushi bar. I wasn’t keen on this either, for the same reasons I mentioned for the Japanese and sushi bar, however this one didn’t surprise me in the positive way the Japanese one did.

**Omakase Sushi4.5/6

  • Chef’s choice combination 6 piece nigiri sushi and 1 sushi roll $13.95
  • I didn’t think I would like this, but seeing the sushi bar with actual pieces of whole fish, helped a lot.
  • The salmon and tuna are standard, but offering hamachi was already a cut above “grocery store sushi”.
  • I chose the brown rice sushi which I’m pretty sure was black rice. It’s obviously healthier than white.
  • The black rice is much chewier and firmer and it was moist and sticky, but a bit on the bland side and I would have preferred more vinegar and sugar.
  • The sashimi was cut quite well and it was incredibly fresh.
  • The rice did change the texture and flavour of the sushi and it did stand out above the fish, but naturally that was bound to happen if you use black rice.
  • The salmon and avocado roll had a decent amount of salmon sashimi, but added cucumber would have given good textural contrast.
  • Overall it was very healthy sushi and the rice is more filling and denser, so it is a substantial lunch on its own.

**Salmon Teriyaki4/6

  • $11.50
  • It was a pretty big chunk of boneless salmon and it was easily seasoned with salt and pepper and lightly glazed with Teriyaki sauce.
  • The Teriyaki sauce was quite light and it wasn’t that sweet at all which I liked.
  • The salmon was fully cooked, and I prefer mine half cooked, but it wasn’t dry. It was moist, but just not juicy.
  • The fish itself had a naturally high oil content so it was buttery and flaked almost like sablefish.
  • I would have preferred it grilled more (with the skin) so that the exterior was more crispy and the meat was more smoky.
  • I did find it pricey, but it was fresh and good.

Spring Roll 1.5/6

  • Spring Rolls (2) $6
  • Being Asian I had a feeling I wasn’t going to be up for this. I wasn’t expecting traditional spring rolls, but it was definitely a Western style spring roll.
  • The spring roll wrapper was too think, chewy and doughy, and it was stuffed with a little bit of sautéed cabbage, carrots and onions.
  • I found it heavier on the spring roll wrapper than the filling and I prefer it the other way around.
  • I like my spring rolls light and crispy with a nice crunch, which wasn’t the case here.
  • I expected plum sauce as the dipping sauce, but they served it with this sauce that tasted like half Hoisin sauce and half BBQ sauce. Again it was probably altered for a Western market, but the sauce was unusual and quite heavy and bold for a spring roll.

Vegetable Fried Rice3.5/6

  • $7.50
  • It was another Westernized Chinese dish, so I wasn’t expecting traditional.
  • It had so many new flavours I’ve never seen for fried rice so I basically came at it from a “new dish” perspective.
  • The fried rice was actually pretty good though for what it was.
  • It wasn’t Uncle Ben’s fried rice and it was moist, not greasy or dry and it was fried quite well.
  • It was a sweet and savoury fried rice with a tang because they fried it in a ketchup base and added cherry tomatoes.
  • Personally I grew up having fried rice with Ketchup, so I actually like this. It also reminded me of the Americanized Pad Thai’s that use a Ketchup base, so it was similar to that in flavour.
  • The raisins were certainly new and it gave it a sweetness, but I actually liked it again. The addition made me think of Middle Eastern or Indian style rices.

Spicy Green Beans3.5/6

  • This was sautéed with some shallots, onions and perhaps a bit of sweet Thai chill sauce which gave it a mild heat at the very end.
  • It was what it was, but it was a bit too oily and greasy for me.
  • The beans were fresh and crunchy and the dish was well executed, but it was also quite basic and standard.
  • I’m not sure if there were pink peppercorns used to make this or if they came from one of the other vegetable stir frys that got mixed in, but the use of them was quite modern and gourmet.

Crispy Pan Fried Hong Kong Noodles2/6

  • $7.50
  • The noodles came it rounds and they were deep fried so they were really crunchy, but also quite chewy at times.
  • Personally this was a bit too “food court Chinese” for me, without that gourmet appeal that they aim for, so I wasn’t keen on it.
  • The vegetables on the other hand were fresh and whole and not too greasy so I did like that.

Vegetarian Tofu with Noodles – 2/6

  • It looked like beef and I found them unusually tender and soft until I discovered what they were.
  • So instead of traditional beef they used these vegetarian “cakes” which are made from glutinous flour. They are a bit chewy and sponge like and remind me of deep fried tofu puffs. I’ve had them many times before in vegetarian Chinese cuisine.
  • This was on the greasy side for me, so I’d request less oil if it’s not made already.
  • The flavouring was a tad bland with just plain soy sauce so I would have liked some oyster sauce and maybe chili for additional flavour.

Italian

I didn’t get to try anything from the Italian section, but it offered a selection of meat and vegetarian paninis, custom pastas, and flat bread pizzas.

American

I completely overlooked this section and after seeing it, I wanted it. It was the good old Southern and American comfort food with Sloppy Joe’s, hearty chili, deep fried fish and fries. I like to call this the “need a nap before I head back to work” section.

This just made it worse. I love brioche buns! Seeing these perfectly round brioche buns used for Sloppy Joe’s was only something I have to make sure I go try next time! I don’t know how I missed this. If I had room I would have… but I needed to save my second stomach for…

Desserts/Bakery

Being the dessert lover I am, I certainly had space for this. These weren’t your ordinary coffee shop pastries, but they were quite gourmet. This is mainly due to the fact that they have an in house pastry chef!

Besides desserts, they have a full coffee and tea bar upfront. From teas, coffees, espressos, smoothies, frappes and more, it’s like Starbucks 2.0. They even had some signature espressos which were inspired by chocolate bars and candy like Almond Joy, Milky Way, Peppermint Patty, and Turtle etc.

**Banana Cream Pie4.5/6

  • $3.50
  • For $3.50, this was such a deal.
  • The layer of banana was quite thin, but there were pieces of creamy caramelized banana in it and I could still taste it as a dominant flavour.
  • There was lots of pipped whipped cream on top and the custard actually had real vanilla beans in it which was fantastic!
  • It wasn’t too sweet and the crust was nutty and crunchy and it was a great contrasting texture with all the creamy layers going on.

**Strawberry Cheesecake4/6

  • $5
  • I’m not huge on cheesecake, unless it’s Tiramisu, but this one wasn’t a dense New York style cheesecake. This was light and incredibly fluffy so I actually liked it.
  • It had a mild cheese flavour and it wasn’t very tangy or lemony, and I didn’t find it heavy or too rich.
  • The crust was a graham cracker cookie like crust, which is always ideal with any cheesecake.

**Lemon Fig Cheesecake 5/6

  • $5
  • I’ve never seen this before and it tasted as great as it looked!
  • The figs were incredibly fresh, sweet and ripe and there were a lot of them used too!
  • I loved the contrast of the fresh and light, fluffy and lemony cheesecake and the sweetness of the figs. I could have used even more lemon.
  • It was the same graham cracker crust as the strawberry cheesecake.

**Chocolate Tart with Peanuts and Salted Caramel4/6

  • $3.50
  • I love salted caramel and chocolate and any sweet and savoury dessert, so naturally this was appealing. At $3.50 it was certainly worth it.
  • There was a good amount of rich, creamy, glossy, smooth and buttery caramel.
  • The caramel was divine but I could have even used a bit more salt and it was a tad mild. The salt was completely melted into it, so there was no crispy salty bits.
  • A sprinkle of Fleur de Sel on top would have been great!
  • The chocolate crust was made of bitter sweet chocolate and although it was quite chocolaty it wasn’t that sweet. The caramel was sweet though so that balanced it out.
  • The bittersweet chocolate crust was a bit too hard and I couldn’t cut through it, so a bit thinner would have been ideal.
  • There were also very minimal peanuts so I did miss that since it was in the title of the dessert.
  • It was quite a sweet dessert given the ingredients, but it was well made and enjoyed.

Home Made Modern Pop Tart3/6

  • About $1-1.50 (?)
  • These are popular during breakfast hours.
  • They have different flavours, but this one was filled with a thin layer of lemon curd, but I couldn’t taste much of it.
  • It was certainly flaky like a pie dough, but not crispy or crunchy.
  • For what it is, it’s pretty good, but it’s just not particularly a highlight here although a fun idea.

**Sticky Buns6/6

  • $1.95
  • These are incredibly decadent and ultra buttery and of course sinfully delicious!
  • It was pretty much a cinnamon bun, but lighter with the cinnamon.
  • It reminded me of the flavours of a pumpkin walnut spice cake or roll.
  • It was sticky and sweet with caramel and pieces of crunchy walnuts over top.
  • The layers of pastry dough were rolled thin, and very soft and tender.
  • If it was warmed up it would have melted in my mouth even more than it did at room temperature.
  • These are fantastic!

Peach Turnover2.5/6

  • Around $2.50
  • The pastry dough was great and it was light, airy and flaky with buttery layers, but there wasn’t much peach in it at all. I almost thought it was just apple because I couldn’t taste it.
  • The sweetness was great and it was very tender, soft and moist inside, but I looked forward to the peach filling. Had there been more peach filling it would be easily a 4/6.

Twice Baked Almond Croissant 3.5/6

  • $3.50
  • This was certainly an Americanized croissant, but it was still good.
  • Almond croissants are one of my favourites so I have high standards for them. This one was very different.
  • I do prefer lots more sliced almonds on top, and these were slivered so it did make it extra crunchy which I liked.
  • The top had this butter and sugar topping that tasted just like the topping on Chinese Mexican Buns or Chinese Pineapple Buns. I’ve never seen that done on an almond croissant and it was unexpected, but enjoyed.

  • The inside was filled with a creamy nutty almond paste made of sugar, butter and ground almonds and I only wish there was more of it.
  • It was sweet and delicious, but there was much more croissant than filling.
  • The croissant was crunchy on the edges, but had they been double baked it would have been more caramelized and even better.
  • Personally I prefer almond croissants more like the ones from Bakery Nouveau in Seattle (see Double Baked Almond Croissant) or Thomas Haas in Vancouver.

Wild Mushroom Ricotta Muffin4/6

  • $2.95
  • I love sweet and savoury, and it didn’t bother me that this was going to be a savoury muffin. Just expect it though. I loved the idea.
  • It was bursting with minced mushrooms inside (pretty much all button), and there was some cheese sprinkled over top for an extra crispy crust.
  • I did wish it had more of a muffin top, but it was still a great savoury muffin.
  • It was intense with mushroom flavour and I felt like I was dipping bread into mushroom soup, but all in the context of a muffin.
  • The muffin was super moist, airy and fluffy from the ricotta and almost like a sourdough bread meets a focaccia. It could have been made with buttermilk.
  • It was really well seasoned, nutty and salty, buttery and full of flavour.

4 Mini Cupcake Variety4/6

  • $4.75 Large cupcake $2.50
  • Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting – this one was the best one, and for some reason it was the most moist.
  • Coconut Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting – I could have used a stronger coconut flavour and it was a bit dry.
  • Vanilla with Vanilla Frosting – It was good and moist and not particularly memorable, but good.
  • Chocolate with Chocolate Frosting – This had a chocolate ganache icing rather than a butter cream and it was good, but more like a cake than a cupcake. I know a cupcake is just a mini cake, but this one just seemed more cake like compared to the other cupcakes.
  • It’s not the best cupcakes in New York, but they’re convenient to bring back to the office as a nice treat.

[geotag]

Milk Street Cafe on Urbanspoon

6 Comments

  • Linda says:

    i guess the trend in new york now is having these big food emporiums, like eataly for example.. the place definitely has some promise especially the american section although i would’ve loved to see some grits and collard greens lol i’m not completely convinced that its worth the price though.. especially for the chinese food section lol

    mmm the rotisserie looks great and i love the salad bar 🙂 if i was going here, i’d definitely hit up the sushi area and the dessert section, especially those delicious sticky buns nomnomnom 🙂

  • Bow says:

    The beauty of this place is , unlike most food courts, it’s the diversity…you’re not stuck choosing from franchise fast food joints which tend to cook similar fast foods by which I mean: it’s thawed, it’s pre-cooked, its microwaved or deep fried and food kept warm by heat lamps and steamers, ugh ! And it’s formula style which leads to food tasting bland, overcooked and the same. Your chicken was dry because most places do not want to have some customers complain about any pink in the chicken and the meat thermometer should read 90 degrees centigrade; thus over cooked meat.Some ovens with programmable cooking set this 90 degree as a standard. The Asian food looks poor, certainly not up to Vancouver standards.I like the variety of desserts and definitely a thumbs up to the lemon fig cheesecake.

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – yeah I can’t say I was keen on the Chinese section… but the sushi bar was surprisingly pretty good! Mmmm good call on the grits for the American section.. that would be fun! Yeah the prices aren’t cheap, but they’re actually okay priced for the financial district. I was surprised at the little selection down there!

    @Bow – Bow! We have similar tasted on that lemon fig cheesecake! That one popped out to me most! Good call on the chicken too. I think you’re bang on. I know what you mean by them not wanting to see pink…. it’s like burgers and how some people freak out when they’re pink even though their freshly ground in house… if it’s processed yes, freak out.

  • KimHo says:

    Dishes “scored”: 22
    Savoury dishes: 12
    Pastries/dessert: 10

    I will have to say this is “so Mijune”, hahaha!

    Rotisserie chicken: The best idea in supermarkets for single people… And I am talking based on own experience!!! Depending on the supermarket, it can go from $7 to $10; add some sides of your choice for some extra $$$ and you should have enough for at least three meals (how many actual meals depends on how hungry you are!).

    About “supermarket” sushi. There are actually some really decent places in Vancouver that sells it; however, it might be a bit of hit/miss depending on the time of the day you go. Obviously, if you go late afternoon, it won’t be that fresh. However, there are some places that have decent options. The one that comes to my mind would be Sushi Mart in the 1600 block of Robson Street. It is actually a regular sushi restaurant (run by Japanese for those who care about this); however, they have some of those pre-packed for people in a hurry. However, you can also ask them to make something for you and they will do it on the spot. Of course, not the same as in a sit-down restaurant but, for a quick fix/lunch rush, it does the job.

    About those Chinese dishes, in Vancouver, I think I would rather go to Kent’s Kitchen, hahaha!

  • Mijune says:

    @KimHo – you know it!!! LOL! I need a balanced diet! Good point on the “grocery store sushi”… there’s also Robo Sushi on Robson I think that was decent… but it was too long ago since I’ve been. Thanks Kim!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *