For years this practical wicker park breakfast hot spot had been located just a block away from my sister's apartment near the Milwaukee/Damen/North intersection. For those years of sleeping on Lisa's couch I was far to infatuated with Feast to really venture anywhere else, especially when the description is an order at the counter cafe style eatery. Now, for those of you looking for a breakfast you can recognize without an explanation (not Jam) that tastes great and doesn't burn a hole in your wallet, then go to Milk and Honey (http://www.milkandhoneycafe.com/ 1920 W. Division St.).
Now a few things brought me here for the first time, but let me start with a story. As a past waiter, I can tell you that the worst thing a patron can do is order without using the menu. A few weeks back I went to Nookies Too with Noam upon which he ordered an espresso, grapefruit, and a croissant (none of which were on the menu or available). Disgruntled, Noam pledged that the next place we went have these things since any "normal" restaurant should. The next weekend sure enough, Lisa and Noam suggested we go to Milk and Honey. Being the stingy student living on loan money and already having gone to breakfast that weekend, I was very hesitant to go out again. My worries were quickly quelled when I saw the menu prices maxed out at around $7. These prices are one of the reasons I took my friends out here this past weekend after spending quite a wad on Friday night.
As I previously stated, this is an order at the counter cafe. You still have to go through the hostess for your table, but it's a very efficient way of getting through breakfast if you're short on time so that you don't wait for both a table and food separately. Also, for the two times I've been there, it's been very crowded, and seating and food arrival timing hasn't been an issue. You still have someone bring you your food, but you have to get your own silverware and cups of water (worth it since you don't really have to tip when buying food ahead of time at the counter). It should be noted that there's not much spacing from groups so I wouldn't recommend bringing parties of more than 5. Logistically it's a pretty comfortable experience where you get to have nice conversation with your friends without having a waiter pester you, having to worry about separate checks (since you pay separately at the counter), or feeling rushed out by a busy waiter.
The price of food is pretty low for the excellent quality. This is the only time I've ever seen a Lox plate for $6.75 (crazy right?), and sure enough that's one of the dishes I've had. With smooth whipped in-house chive cream cheese and a spread including a hefty amount of lox, capers, cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes this plate is enough to make you forget all about the long ago closing of Barnum and Bagel. The other dish I've had is their Huevos Rancheros done casserole style in a generous portion covered in cheese and tortillas. For a meager $6 and change this will keep you full all day. Other highlights include a waffle and pancake of the day which usually include some kind of fresh fruit. Now the one thing different about this place (as pointed out to me by The Professor) is their lack of regular egg dishes (he ended up getting the breakfast panini, which included eggs, and seemed quite happy). Finally, they have pretty good coffee (so I'm told) and a great selection of fresh fruit and pastries.
Really what it comes down to for me is that I could go back to Milk and Honey every weekend and not get sick of it. I wouldn't get sick of the food selection or the prices, and I wouldn't get that feeling you that I've been eating too many meals out that are too large or unhealthy. Additionally, Milk and Honey is in the perfect location for a weekend brunch place because it's surrounded by a good walking area full of interesting stores and people (and I hear they're dog friendly in the summer time). It's definitely not the foodie brunch that Jam is, and it's definitely not the smorgasbord that you can get at Ann Sather, but it is the perfect balance that would keep me coming back.
Now one more interesting final point: I'm not saying that the food provides you with super powers or anything like that, but after eating there, Richard Gross was able to go for a 5.3 mile run with myself and my roommate, a feat the likes of which has been unseen since the great IHOP flashing of '08.
Also... more personal pictures will accompany future posts