July 1 , 2005
Milton's, 920 Massachusetts, Lawrence, KS, hummed with activity at 9:45 on a Saturday morning. Patrons, from toddlers to KU students and senior citizens, happily dined amidst the coral-colored walls adorned with local artwork. The restaurant opened in 1997, billing itself as “a place where the quality of coffee would be as important as the conversation.” Seems like the attraction still holds.
A cinnamon roll has to be good when a toddler throws a temper tantrum because none are left, leaving his father with no option than to remove him from the restaurant. Such was the case at Milton’s that morning. It turned out my husband, Mark, and I had just ordered the last one.
No wonder the kid was upset. The 4”-round and nearly 2”-tall roll ($1.85) was enormously enticing before we ever sank our teeth into the homemade pastry laced with plenty of cinnamon and squiggled with loads of creamy icing. When purchased on a second visit, the roll was just as good.
“Creamy” also aptly described my single short mocha ($2.10). Smooth, satisfying and not overly sweet, the beverage looked quite pretty too. Espresso, chocolate and steamed milk arrived with a head of real whipped cream, a dusting of cocoa and decorative streams of chocolate sauce.
Milton’s signature French toast ($3.75) is no ordinary version. The restaurant pairs two enormous homemade challah slices with a brandy- and nutmeg-laced egg wash that enhances rather than overpowers the dish. However, I feared my syrup would end up on the table because the mountain of moist and flavorful toast occupied most of the plate; I would have preferred a separate plate for my two tender sausage patties ($1.75).
Milton’s Breakfast ($6.95) paired French toast with two eggs — fried to perfection — and three strips of chewy, moist bacon. Mark also asked for a half order of biscuits and gravy ($1.75). A single fluffy biscuit arrived in a bowl topped with thin white gravy that included a generous helping of extra spicy ground sausage.
Other breakfast choices include Homemade Granola ($3.75), Salmon and Eggs ($6.95) with dill and red onions, Huevos Rancheros ($6.95), with black beans and spinach, Milton’s Breakfast Sandwich (with eggs, Canadian bacon, fresh basil pesto and mozzarella, lettuce, tomato and red onion) and honey buttermilk pancakes ($1.50 each).
Milton’s also offers a handful of interesting omelets beginning with the Proscuitto and Cheese omelet ($6.95) that I sampled on a busy Sunday morning. The three-egg dish was packed with mounds of pungent Gorgonzola blue cheese, chewy and savory Italian Prosciutto di Parma ham and leek bits.
But the salt-cured ham, when combined with the cheese, resulted in an overly salty offering that I chased, between bites, with mouthfuls of Milton’s wonderful homemade baked bread and a generous slathering of honey. Perhaps some sweet Virginia ham would be a better match for the blue cheese. My omelet plate featured a helping of breakfast potatoes where the dark brown skin gave way to soft, deftly seasoned “fruit.”
Omelet lovers may also choose The Mediterranean ($6.75) with roasted artichokes, red onions, fresh spinach, kalamata olives and feta cheese, Canadian Bacon ($6.75) with bell peppers and Swiss and Cheddar cheese, The TCB ($6.95), with herb-roasted turkey, cheddar cheese and applewood-smoked bacon, Herb and Cheese ($5.75) or Mushroom & Goat Cheese ($6.75).
Mark’s All-American Breakfast ($6.50) featured fried eggs, again cooked to perfection, applewood-smoked bacon and breakfast potatoes. He ordered an iced tea and asked for extra ice, which quickly arrived in a tiny glass pitcher.
I helped myself to a sturdy white coffee mug and perused at least half a dozen coffee varieties before me, on the counter, and then created my own custom blend. Obviously, Milton’s regulars had their “self-serve” coffee in hand within moments after they entered.
Tableside, patrons also can order from among 13 hot or cold specialty coffee drinks and a wide variety of mochas, cappuccinos, and lattes. During our Sunday visit several tall Bloody Marys (a special for that day), accented with full-size celery stalks, found their way to a back table.
Although we waited about 15 minutes for a table on our first visit, the line moved quickly and efficiently. And I barely noticed our waitress on either visit, so adept was each one at refilling glasses and checking whether we needed anything else without becoming intrusive.
One can only hope this level of service is also available with
lunch and dinner items that range from sandwiches, salads, burgers
and calzones to a page-full of custom individual pizzas.
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