Thursday, November 16, 2017

Portland Brunch: HunnyMilk + Tōv Coffee & Tea

What: HunnyMilk
Where: 40 NE 28th Ave (in what's usually La Buca) 
When: Saturdays & Sundays, 9am-2pm
Honeys Heart: The concept

We've been on a bit of a brunch kick lately with our latest weekend indulgences including a celebratory bday brunch for our friend Amanda at HunnyMilk two weeks ago and a rainy visit to at Fried Egg I'm in Love food cart and TOV coffee bus last weekend.

Amanda's bday brunch was my second time at HunnyMilk, and while we did beat a potential hours-long wait (a major sticking point of my first visit) by arriving right when they opened at 9am, I still left our brunch wishing I liked HunnyMilk more.

I think the main problem is that the concept itself is really great, so when the execution falls short, it's more disappointing. Let's discuss some of the issues:

The Food
Great Idea!: The tricky part about brunch is deciding whether you're going to go savory or sweet. HunnyMilk solves that problem by letting you choose one item off their savory menu and one off their sweet so you get the best of both worlds.
  • Sample Savory Item: Brunchy Quesadilla with smoked bacon, red bells and pepper jack scramble, re-fried bean fritter, sour cream and sun dried tomato
  • Sample Sweet Item: Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Waffle dipped in honey butter with cranberry-mango compote, astronaut strawberries and graham cracker almond crumble

Meh Execution: At both my visits, the savory items were the clear winners on the tray. The sweet items were just way, way too sugary and over-the-top. It's still the morning, after all, and this is brunch, not dessert! You also get so much food, with each item portioned as if it weren't sharing the plate with your other pick. We would have been plenty with a full portion of the savory item and half of the sweet.

The Price
Great Idea!: The fixed price includes a savory item, sweet item, and a drink. You can upgrade your drink for a few bucks to make it boozy.

Meh Execution: HunnyMilk's fixed priced increased from $20 to $22 at some point and you're paying $5 for the champagne they add to your orange juice... so now we're talking $27 per person, which is definitely on the higher side for brunch in Portland. It's true that you get a ton of food for the price, but I would rather pay less and not leave so much food on the plate. Plus, you have to pay more if you want two savory items - and the savory items are the good items!

The Space
Great Idea!: HunnyMilk is a weekend-only pop-up held in a restaurant that doesn't serve lunch on Saturdays and Sundays. It's a smart way to use an existing space.

Meh Execution: The food trays and the custom coloring sheets are pretty cute, but La Buca itself, where HunnyMilk is held, is pretty low on the Portland restaurant interior design scale. I think that brunch at a place that calls itself HunnyMilk should be twee to the max, and twee La Buca is not. And those outdoor Costco bistro lights hanging randomly from the ceiling... just, no.

So that's HunnyMilk. Now let's talk about a place that I am now obsessed with.

What: Tōv Coffee & Tea
Where: SE 32nd & Hawthorne
When: 7:30am-5pm everyday
Honeys Heart: All of it 

Tōv coffee bus is located right next to Fried Egg and it is the most Portland. We are talking:
  • Red double-decker bus with makeshift 2nd-story tenting
  • Turkish/Egyptian coffee shop-inspired interior with all purple everything
  • Friendly baristas with handlebar mustaches 
  • Egyptian coffee and tea and traditional espresso beverages plus Tōv's original creations

I ordered the Cardamom Caramel Latte and it was probably the most delicious latte I've ever had. So tasty with just the right amount of sweet (are you listening, HunnyMilk? Sometimes less is more with the sugar). 

Kel took a chance and ordered the Charcoal and Cream Latte which, while understandably slightly grainy, was also super delicious and maybe even good for the ol' stomach. 

Basically, Tōv is now at the top of my list for coffee anytime I'm in SE and you can bet I'm going to take our next round of visitors there for a quirky Portland coffee experience