Restaurant Review: Milk Bar


Milk Bar offers a tantalizing array of desserts. (Courtesy of Alexandra Lange for The Fordham Ram)

It’s not every day that you walk into a restaurant and are immediately transported back to the days of your childhood bliss. However, when I first visited Milk Bar at its West Village location, I was overcome with a feeling of nostalgia and instantly reminded of my younger years.  You may not immediately recognize the delight that lies inside the dessert shop just from walking by. Milk Bar has a simple exterior, and you could easily miss the tiny establishment with its plain, white wooden panels and lack of eye-catching signage. This is a characteristic of most of Milk Bar’s many locations, with some being a tiny window bar where customers can only take their dessert to go.

Even if the Milk Bar location you visit has only a walk-up window, the playful vibe of the chain resonates in its smallest locations. The bigger the store, though, the greater the amount of childlike wonderment the shop invokes. Much to my delight, the West Village outpost I ate at was one of Milk Bar’s bigger stores. As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by chalkboard walls, pink lights and sprinkle-covered counters reminiscent of my childhood. The distinct, mouthwatering smell of sugar fills the air and makes visitors feel as if they have arrived at a candy factory with countless homemade goodies to satisfy their sweet tooth.

Very often, places like Milk Bar that are touted as having some of NYC’s most Instagrammable desserts and offer a memorable, photogenic storefront actually lack in terms of the quality of their food. When I walked into Milk Bar, I was worried that the charming appearance of the shop would not transfer onto the actual dessert selections. However, Milk Bar’s assortment of baked goods evokes just as much childlike joy as its interior does.

With a wide variety of non-traditional desserts based off childhood favorites, I couldn’t order just one option, so I decided to try the Milk Bar “Greatest Hits,” ($20) which includes a cup of cereal milk soft serve with a cornflake topping, a slice of  “crack pie,” three birthday cake truffles and a “compost” cookie.

I was most excited to try the cereal milk soft serve since I had seen countless Instagram posts featuring the unique ice cream. Just one bite of the ice cream immediately inflicts a powerful sense of nostalgia to eating breakfast as a child and drinking the leftover cereal milk. At first, I doubted that the cereal milk-flavored soft serve would actually taste like cereal milk; however, it tasted exactly like the milk left at the bottom of a bowl of Frosted Flakes. The cornflake topping truly puts the dish on another level. It adds the perfect amount of crunch and makes you feel as though you are eating a bowl of cereal instead of ice cream.

The next sweet I tried was the birthday cake truffle. Milk Bar is famous for its larger-than-life birthday cakes, complete with sprinkles, birthday cake crumbs and thick layers of buttercream frosting. The birthday cake truffles are essentially a mini version of the cake, so I couldn’t wait to test out the famous dessert. After a few bites, I decided the truffles tasted like funfetti cookie dough. They had a nostalgic flavor of funfetti boxed cake mix and a melt-in-your-mouth texture. The truffle sent me back to my childhood birthdays, eating a sprinkle-filled cake and blowing out candles wishing that my wildest dreams would come true.

Next up on my dessert plate was the “Milk Bar pie.” This dessert, originally named “Crack Pie,” put Milk Bar and its creator, Christina Tosi, on the map as it is one of the most innovative dessert creations of all time. With a name like “crack pie,” it’s easy to wonder if the dessert will actually be as addicting as it declares itself to be, but once you try the gooey, buttery goodness, you will know that the name is rightfully earned. With a texture similar to that of pecan pie — minus the pecans — and a delicious toasted oatmeal cookie-like crust, the slice of crack pie is a magical combination of sweet, salty and sticky. It is difficult to put into words the mastery of this pie. To fully appreciate the dessert you have to actually try it. Every bite tastes better than the last and truly is like “crack pie.”

My final treat from Milk Bar was the “compost cookie.” As its name implies, the cookie is a mash-up of ingredients you would never think to put together. Made with a graham cracker base and filled with pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, chocolate chips and butterscotch, the compost cookies are the perfect mix of sweet and salty.

My experience at Milk Bar was like no other and defied all expectations. From the moment I walked in, I felt a strong sense of childhood nostalgia that was only augmented by the incredible selection of tasty desserts. For being inspired by the joys of childhood, Milk Bar’s goodies are surprisingly innovative and complex beneath the surface. Founder Christina Tosi’s culinary genius is evident in all her desserts, never being afraid to combine seemingly odd ingredients and push the boundaries of baking.

Unlike many bakeries in NYC, Milk Bar shares its recipes online with anyone who wishes to try creating their imaginative desserts themselves. Especially given that many people are avoiding eating out due to COVID-19, these accessible recipes allow people from all over the world to test their luck at creating Milk Bar’s delicious treats.

Don’t worry if you’re not the baking type, though. Milk Bar also offers both NYC delivery and pickup options, as well as nationwide shipping. On top of all their regular menu items, Milk Bar also ships a variety of specially curated care packages to show your loved ones you’re thinking of them during this time of isolation.

No matter where you’re currently spending your days, nothing is stopping you from enjoying the childlike bliss of Milk Bar’s impeccable desserts. If you’re ever feeling down or just want to feel like a kid again, look no further than Milk Bar.