Horton Place, Colombo 7 is turning into quite a foodie paradise with many cafés and restaurants opening over the past few years. The Milk and Honey Café however, has been serving an extremely vegan and vegetarian friendly menu for quite some time and this review is long overdue.
The Milk and Honey Café is extra special for me as a mother of bookworms as it is tucked behind a bookshop that has a carefully selected array of books, toys and outfits for children. In all, it has two elements I love most in life, food and books. It is quite conveniently located and has parking at the front of the store. Two things hit you as you enter the store. The smell of new books and the aroma of food. One word to describe it – heaven.
Thadsha, Ramesh and I headed straight to the café which has both indoor and outdoor seating. The lemon and amberealla trees outside were laden with fruit which eventually make its way as ingredients in the food that is served here.
The menu is numbered only with no fancy names attached to it and has both vegan and vegetarian options and with the ingredients printed clearly against each dish. The best part is you can speak to the servers and change the ingredients to suit your needs and if you come here with omnivorous friends and family, they have the option to add fish and meat items. This is a lovely turn around, where normally non meat eaters are given a limited menu to choose from in other eateries. The menu is divided in to sections named as All Day Breakfast, Mains, Salads, Wraps and Desserts. Many ingredients are interchangeable and the servers are well versed with the menu to help you with your order.
We ordered the crowd favourite watermelon lemonade, the number 12 from the mains containing roasted beetroot and onion salad with homemade paneer, parsley and cashew served with sourdough (Rs 750) , a Number 16 – rainbow bowl with Avo, halloumi, mushroom quinoa, roasted pumpkin, roasted beats and onions, marinated raw kale and pickle (Rs 900) A number 17 containing beetroot falafel, chick pea falafel, hummus, tomato salsa, okra salad, cauliflower rice, green salad and pickles (Rs 900), a number 23 from the wraps with a falafel, hummus and tomato salsa (Rs 600) and the number 4 of the desserts which is the café’s take on a sago pudding (Rs 450).
We also met Pri Ratnayake founder and owner of the Milk and Honey Café who spoke on how she opened up the café eight years ago to fill up a void in serving healthy, organic food in Sri Lanka. In that sense, the café was quite ahead of the times. She elaborated on the various vegetarian and vegan ready to eat sweets that can be bought over the counter. Ranging from banana bread, brownies, oat cookies, to oat bars all the sweets are either gluten free or has less glutens. Using brown and raw sugar, honey and treacle is another policy Pri endorses not wanting to use refined sugars.
The drinks served with its own steel straws are heartily approved by the Meatless Monday SL Team. A big thumbs up here. The watermelon lemonade was not sweet and was a pleasant balance between the watermelon and lemon flavours and we were told that Kithul treacle was offered as a sweetner if required. There was a lovely array of coffees and teas to choose from as well, you just need to let them know if you need a vegan option.
Mains/ Salads/ Wraps
Our dishes were served together and the portions were quite large.
The number 12 on the menu was an absolute delight and perhaps our favourite. The beets had been roasted with herbs and spices and were both delicate yet flavourful. The addition of nuts, paneer and the sourdough bread slathered with a generous dollops of homemade hummus added texture to each mouthful. The dressing gets a special mention with its delightful blend of flavours. However, the ingredients to this will forever remain a secret. This mild and non-spicy salad is quite surprisingly filling. You can easily speak to the counter and make this a vegan version.
Our number 16 ‘Rainbow Bowl’ was a pretty vegetarian dish, which was once again non spicy and mild served with a beautiful avocado flower placed right at the centre of the plate. The mushroom quinoa was cooked to perfection and the roasted veggies were once again well done. The pickled veggies brought a lovely bite to this salad that went well with the creamy avocado.
The beetroot falafels were our favourites in the vegan number 17 option. I would have preferred the cauliflower rice to have had some extra herbs and a spicy undertone, but it was still quite yum in the tum. The okra better known as ladies fingers in Sri Lanka was not the slimy slithery blehness of our childhood memories, but were roasted and well flavoured. The chick pea falafel was a bit dry but once it blended with the crunchy salad leaves, the zing of the tomato salsa and the creamy hummus it hit the right places.
The least impressive of our dishes to me was the wrap Number 23. While it tasted wholesome and healthy with its wholemeal flat bread, salad leaves, tomato salsa and hummus I felt it did not quite carry the magic the other options dished out. I wish the lovely salad leaves could have been tossed with that amazing dressing they had used for the number 16, and once again the falafels were too dry and the zing of the tomato salsa could not quite salvage it. Curiously, it did not deter us from polishing it off.
The sago pudding was a really yummy vegan dessert rich with coconut undertones and one mysterious element that I wanted to double check on. Traditional sago pudding contains cardamoms but this had a zing to it. Upon inquiry I was told it was kaffir lime leaves added right at the end of the cooking process. Nice! The dessert was both light and yummilicious. The cramalized banana, teamed up with coconut jam or as we Sri Lankans call it ‘panipol’ gives this dessert a lovely texture and combines the sweet and sour elements quite effortlessly. Unfortunately for me, we shared this dessert, a mistake I will not make the next time I head this way.
Vegan and vegetarian food gets a bad rap for being bland, flavourless and boring. The food at the Milk and Honey café with hints of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Asian flavours prove this wrong. While all dishes are mild and non-spicy and truly kind to your stomach, health, animal life and environment it is also a gastronomical delight if you need a change from the oil based spicy Sri Lankan food. Teamed up with it is breezy ambience, friendly staff, it is the ideal place for you to kick start your vegan/ vegetarian journey.
Until next time TTFN – Ta ta for now 😊