“Have fun getting fat,” a cashier with her hair wrapped in a bandana called to a couple of gals leaving the shop. “They’re headed on a soft-serve tour—checking out the flavors at each of our locations,” she explained. All of the city’s five Momofuku Milk Bars have the trademarked Cereal Milk flavor, which tastes like the frozen leftovers of a bowl of Fruit Loops. (If that flavor profile appeals to your taste bud nostalgia, then Milk Bar is the place for you. Add another L!) There’s a second soft-serve flavor unique to each location: blueberry-miso in the East Village, pink lemonade on the Upper West Side, strawberry-sesame in Williamsburg, and guava-horchata in Midtown. At the newest Carroll Gardens outpost, they serve salty pistachio ($4.50), which I found to be the ice cream equivalent of a mouthful of ocean water—too thick and saline for my taste. I dumped it in the park on the way home. I wanted to love this neighborhood branch Momofuku empire, but after three visits, I’m still not feeling it.
To be fair, you can get a great snack here if you enjoy super-sweet treats. The richly sweet crack pie and luscious pretzel-topped candybar pie ($5.25 per modest slice or $44 per 10-inch pie) pair perfectly with foamy cappuccino ($3.65), but you must eat your pricy treats standing at the counter along the window, as there isn’t any seating here. The chewy compost cookie ($1.85), made with chocolate, butterscotch and potato chips, plus pretzels and coffee grinds, packs a salty-sweet-bitter-buttery punch in every bite. You can also buy the attractively packaged cookie mix to take home, but if you’re dropping $16 on a box that yields nine cookies—to which you must add butter, an egg, pretzels and potato chips—you’re kind of getting ripped off.
The savory options are less delectable. Twice we took home pork buns with tough skins encasing stringy pork—not exactly worth their $8 price tag. The mushroomy flavor of the veggie bun ($7) was overwhelmed by salt. The kimchi slaw ($2) perked things up, and each bun may have benefitted from adding an egg (for another $1), but it’s hard to drop $11 dollars on a pork bun when you can get a better one for a buck in Chinatown. For $3.50, you can get a palm-sized bagel bomb, a hunk of chive cream cheese wrapped in chewy dough. Just down the block, you can get a scoop of scallion cream cheese on a regular bagel, which you can eat while seated beside some old-neighborhood tough guys who’d be more than happy to tell you where to shove your $5 slice of crack pie.
Momofuku Milk Bar Carroll Gardens