One of the large gaps in my collective NYC food experience is a meal at any part of the Momofuku empire. Given that pretty much all of Dave Chang's food has pork in it, I've found it hard to psych myself up to go to a restaurant where I'd eat...nothing. But all that changed when he opened Momofuku Milk Bar, a dessert destination in the East Village. It opened a while ago and I hadn't yet been-- shameful. This weekend, I was determined to change all that.
I dragged AV there on a dispiritingly chilly Saturday afternoon, and we purchased a couple treats for later. While we were there, we tasted two of their soft serve flavors: cream cheese frosting and red velvet cake. The cream cheese tasted pretty much like innocuous vanilla, with a bit of a cream cheese bite on the aftertaste. The red velvet cake was stronger in all sense of the world-- tastier, chocolatey, spiced somehow.
Fast forward a few hours to after dinner. AV dove into the compost cookie, and it was-- okay. A relatively large cookie, it was impossibly rich, and the tiny bite I took tasted much like any competent chocolate chip cookie. Not worth the trip or the copious stomach space.
My slice of candy bar pie was far less successful. It sounds great: chocolate cookie crust, caramel, Reese's-esque peanut butter filling, and a layer of chocolate on top. But pretty much none of those components succeeded. The cookie crust was alarmingly salty with no sweet chocolate taste-- it tasted, on balance, like salty sand. The caramel was gelatinous and thin, with a slightly chemical flavor. The peanut butter/chocolate glaze layer was the best element of the pie, but it was still nowhere near the level of Reese's mastery. After making it through about 3/4 of the slice, I felt sick. The pie was well conceived but surprisingly poorly executed.
So there you have it. Both of us were truly disappointed, me especially so given all the glowing reviews I've seen of the place. Did we come on an off night? Is it worth another try? Given that our two relatively small treats approached $8 together, I don't think I'm going to spend the money to find out. While some people may return time and again for the soft serve, I'd counsel you to skip Momofuku Milk Bar altogether.
Momofuku Milk Bar
207 2nd Avenue, at 13th Street