I love brunch. There really is nothing better at the weekend than hanging out with your friends over good food and a few bloody mary’s/proseccos. My weekend brunches are probably my favourite meals of the week and I love looking for new places to go. Recently, I was rather surprised when my friend Cassie, who rarely travels south of the river, suggested we have brunch at M1LK in Balham. She had recently met a chef called Dan Ingram who worked there and had heard great things about it.
I used to live in Balham in what seems like another lifetime ago. Back then there were no delis, there was no Waitrose, there was nowhere nice to hang out except one little cafe but because it was the only place worth going at the weekends it was understandably impossible to get a table there. It’s a very different story now.
I arrived at M1LK, which is at the end of Hildreth Street Market, just a minute’s walk from Balham tube station, at 10.30am on a very cold morning, and met Cassie who was already standing in the queue holding a hot cup of coffee. Obviously, as is the case with everywhere I seem to want to eat in, you can’t book. Its a small place inside and they had put some seating outside but there was no way I was sitting in the freezing cold whilst eating my breakfast. So we queued until a table became available inside, catching up on the gossip whilst hopping from foot to foot, trying to stay warm.
As soon as we were ushered inside, I got really excited.
Its very cosy and very buzzy. A neon pink ‘M1LK’ sign hangs on the white-washed, semi-stripped brick wall behind a counter adorned with incredible looking cakes and the odd doll’s head. Framed butterflies, old photos, floor to ceiling windows, mis-matched furniture and crockery, an open kitchen in the corner…I loved it instantly.
We sat down, ordered coffee and tea and were handed our menus.
I wanted to eat everything. We kept seeing food coming out of the kitchen and being placed on tables around us and everything looked amazing. I’m kind of off meat at the moment so I decided to order Burford Brown scrambled eggs on sourdough toast and sides of roast tomatoes, field mushrooms and hash browns. I had initially wanted the black cabbage and the smashed avocado as well but when I was ordering the waitress replied, “Is this for both of you? Or just you?”. So I ditched the cabbage and avocado.
With hindsight it was just as well as I was stuffed with what I did order. It was so delicious. The eggs were perfectly cooked, the hash browns came with a mound of cheese on top! I’d go back for those alone to be honest. As I glanced around I noticed most people had a pile of cheese-topped hash browns on their tables.
Cassie went for probably the prettiest brunch dish I’ve ever seen…Baked eggs with Käsekrainer (a cheese-filled Austrian sausage), black cabbage, labneh and wild flowers.
She absolutely loved it. I tried a little (without the sausage) and the flavours were bold and punchy, it was heavenly.
Dan then came out of the kitchen to say hi to us and told us we had to try the pancakes with brûléed bananas, pecan brittle, maple syrup and coffee cream…
It was absolutely divine but we were so stuffed we couldn’t finish it. I really want to go back so I can work my way through the menu.
M1LK source all their produce from independent, local, family-owned suppliers around London, and the Southeast. They bake cakes and cookies all day, everyday using organic flours and meals from UK co-ops and mills in Oxfordshire. They work closely with their butcher to source organic, heritage and rare-breed meats from individual farms in Sussex, Norfolk and Surrey.
This really is a fantastic little brunch spot and I’m so glad Cassie introduced me to it. Its quirky, packed with atmosphere and great music, the food is fantastic and the (Workshop and Koppi) coffee is wonderful, the staff are really friendly and its just a lovely place to be. One thing to bear in mind if you go…they don’t take cards, so bring cash.
And if you can’t get to Balham for some reason, the owners have another café in Clapham Common, Fields.
M1LK, 20 Bedford Hill / Hildreth Street, London, SW12 9RG
020 8772 9085
8am-5pm Monday – Saturday