Foodie Spotlight: Milktooth

Indianapolis is quickly becoming one of the hottest food cities in America.  A destination for true foodies who are interested in everything from fine dining to food trucks.  This column will put the spotlight on one of these local hot spots to help get the word out and share in the love of all things food.

Review by Dustin Heller (@eatindywatchindie on Instagram)

Photo from @davepluimer

If you’re an Indianapolis foodie and reading this column, then the restaurant in the spotlight this week needs no introduction. Milktooth is quite possibly the most buzzed about spot in the entire city–and for good reason!  Located right in the heart of the ever-popular foodie neighborhood that is Fletcher Place (534 Virginia Ave.), Milktooth is an ultra-hip diner that does brunch like you’ve never experienced before.  The inspirational dishes are not only inventive, but they are downright groundbreaking.  Just how good is this place, you ask?  Well, Milktooth was named one of the 10 best new restaurants in the United States by Bon Appétit magazine back in 2015.  Very impressive!

Photo from @cline.matt

When Chef Jonathan Brooks opened Milktooth back in 2014, he wanted a chef-driven menu where he could control what was coming out of the kitchen.  “MODIFICATIONS POLITELY DECLINED” is the statement at the bottom of the menu which simply means that the food is exactly how the chef intended and shouldn’t be altered in any way.  It might come across as a bit arrogant, but that’s not the case at all.  Chef Brooks carefully selects each and every item that goes into his dishes and the finished product is perfectly harmonious.  To quote Aristotle, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

Photo from @davepluimer

Milktooth resides in a remodeled auto repair shop and it’s every bit as cool as it sounds–hipster central meets 50s diner.  The décor is fresh and vibrant and the place has a hard-to-define energetic vibe that meshes perfectly with the staff and the food being served.  Speaking of the food, I’d recommend ordering one of everything on the menu, but I know that’s not gonna happen (at least not in one trip).  Since we’ve got to keep this reasonable, I’ve selected four items from the current menu that you “can’t miss” on your next visit to Milktooth.

Spanish Manchego & Grapefruit Dutch Baby Pancake: Let me start by saying that the Dutch baby pancake, no matter what they decide to put on top, should never be missed when visiting Milktooth!  With a menu filled with “can’t miss” items, this one is the crème de la crème.  A Dutch baby (aka German pancake) is a pancake that is baked in a cast iron skillet and then flattens out once removed from the oven.  This particular Dutch baby is topped with Spanish manchego (Sheep’s cheese) which has a sweet, lingering taste, whereas, the grapefruit provides some nice acid.  Don’t go thinking that is all, because we’ve just barely scratched the surface.  It also has shaved Brussels sprouts, shallots, hazelnut, and a delightful sherry vinaigrette.  When the server asks if you’d like to add smoking goose city ham, heed my advice and say “yes!”

Photo from @davepluimer

Potato & Rutabaga Latke: Latke is another way of saying potato pancake, but as you can see by the name, this is no ordinary potato pancake.  The potato is combined with rutabaga which is a root vegetable that is kind of like a hybrid of a cabbage and a turnip.  The latke is fried to a perfect golden brown with the outer crust providing a nice crunch.  It is then topped with squash butter (who would’ve thought?) and green harissa cream.  Harissa is a hot chili pepper paste that adds some nice heat to the dish.  Top it off with some scallions and you’re good to go.

Photo from @davepluimer

Sourdough Pearl Sugar Waffle: Pearl sugar is simply small chunks of white sugar (think salt on a pretzel, but sugar) that is not typically used for baking, but that doesn’t stop Milktooth!  The waffle itself is light and flaky and the flavor from the sourdough really comes through.  Next up are the toppings. Let’s start with the blueberry lemon maple sauce, which is the perfect balance of sweet and tart and the perfect complement to the this waffle.  Not to be outdone is the whipped Greek yogurt and the brown butter sumac granola.  Bring them all together for perfect harmony.

Photo from @eatindywatchindie

Griddled Cornbread with Juneberry Butter: Combining cornbread and butter seems pretty basic, right?  Well, when it’s coming from the kitchen at Milktooth, it’s anything but basic.  The cornbread is quite firm compared to crumbly southern-style cornbread and the silky smooth butter is made with juneberries (imagine if a cherry and a blueberry had a baby together).  Why stop there?  Let’s cover the cornbread with radish and sorrel and serve it with a side of pickled apple & fennel.  That’s crazy, right?  Add a bit of port honey for good measure and voilà–Milktooth’s version of the southern classic.

Photo from @eatindywatchindie

If this wasn’t enough to get you excited, stay tuned for Jonathan Brooks’ next venture, Beholder.  I, for one, cannot wait!