Milk Money Espresso harks back to simpler times when milk was such a necessity that milk money was put aside in a tin to make sure it wasn’t spent elsewhere.
Now, for many people, the daily espresso is equivalent to ‘milk money’, a mental health essential that fires up the day and makes life that little bit brighter.
Coffee and a chat are a great way to start the day. Enter Milk Money Espresso on any day and you’ll receive a chirpy welcome from staff which feels as warm as a great big hug. You’ll be greeted by name, even, if you’ve been in more than a couple of times. Friendly and comfortable with great food and coffee, it’s the sort of café where locals like to both start their day and hang out.
Right from the outset it’s apparent to us that owners Matt and Kelsey Sidoti are no mere amateurs. Matt spent eight years as the owner of The Prickly Pear Café on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. It was right there in his café that he met Kelsey, a heart-warming story of café love!
Fast forward a few years and the couple, now with three children, decided to make a move north. They sold the café in 2020 just before Covid and moved to the Gold Coast a few months later. It took over a year to find the right place to establish themselves; the space where they felt there was a real gap in the market for their style of food.
“I’d had the idea for years of doing restaurant-style food on sandwiches,” Matt tells me, and we can see the appeal. Sandwiches are one of the most earthy, undervalued food items on a menu. But to succeed they have to be done really well, and with creativity.
Take the Reuben, for example. Created in 1914, a great Reuben is one of the best sandwiches under heaven. Milk Money Reuben is stellar. Matt builds the whole sandwich from scratch on fabulous Brasserie bread, adding house-made pickles, scrumptious corned beef, sauerkraut, mustard and cheese laden into the sandwich before toasting it off so the generous cheese oozes out. A pickle is staked out on top.
“The best Reuben I’ve ever tasted,” says the Main Squeeze without stopping between mouthfuls.
“Even better than Al Brown’s?” I ask, referring to the Federal Deli version in Auckland that we loved so much. He nods, muttering something about the balance between flavour and acidity, with no bitter aftertaste – a rare feat indeed! I give him the moment knowing that we won’t pass this part of town again without stopping in for a feed. He’s still nodding. Nailed it, Matt! Nothing more to say.
There are other awesome-sounding sandwiches on the menu – Bae Roll, OG Ham & Cheese, The Don, and the Chicken Caesar Burger… among others… but let’s move on.
Since opening, the menu has progressed to include not only those awesome loaded toasties but also sit-down brunches, bowls, salads and ‘all’ day eats, accompanied by Paradox Coffee’s Penny Lane as the brew of choice, their Picasso Baby for black. Filter, single origin, batch or cold-brew coffee are also available.
Our green pea and soft herb fritters are not only soft and tender but also gluten-free. Laid on a bed of baby spinach and beetroot hummus, the fritters are topped with a stunning ‘green goddess’ yoghurt dressing, smoked salmon, avocado and black sesame. For flavour, balance and goodness, this dish is a winner. Presentation is eye-catching, it’s healthy and ‘green’, just how we love to eat.
Typical of Milk Money’s ‘speakeasy’ status, there is a Grilled Spanish chorizo on thick cut Brasserie Bread’s quinoa and soya bread with poached eggs on offer as a special, which suits the drizzly day when we visit. Dressed with a very tasty house-made romesco sauce, the addition of shaved asparagus, labneh and roasted almond crumb adds finesse and texture to the dish.
A cabinet of goodies includes filled rolls, Fuel Bakery croissants and cruffins, Gold Coast Cookies’ goodies oozing luxe white chocolate, Brasserie’s sourdough cinnamon rolls (which gain a white chocolate and Biscoff crumb in house), all to eat in or take away.
We particularly noted the excellent homemade sauces, high quality ingredients and well thought out flavour combinations in Matt’s dishes, something that stands out as exemplary in the café scene.
Seeing the quality of the meals, I’m surprised when Matt tells me that he trained as a fishmonger and barista, but why should I be? Great quality is great quality. The golden yolks of my poached eggs eloquently tell the story: there are no shortcuts here.
“I’m right into slow-cooked meats and secondary cuts,” Matt says, as we suss out where the team will go from here. He doesn’t rule out a liquor license or night trading on weekends either. All in good time.
For now, you can’t go past a sandwich… or any dish out of the Milk Money Espresso kitchen, actually. Save up your milk money. This food’s worth travelling for.
Milk Money Espresso, 328 Scottsdale Drive, Robina Ph: 0435 353 408
Open: Mon-Fri: 5am till 2.30pm, Sat: 5.30am till 11.30am
NOTE: On one occasion, Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Milk Money Espresso.