Among the most compelling reasons to travel to Indianapolis for food is a restaurant that closes at 3:00 p.m. Milktooth’s chef and owner Jonathan Brooks is one of those helping to redefine daytime dining in America, specializing in sourdough waffles, dutch baby pancakes, lamb burgers, and biscuits and gravy. Whether you decide to call it breakfast, lunch, or brunch, this is A-game cooking from Brooks and his team.
Milktooth serves plenty of familiar morning comforts, though they are polished or nudged in cheffy directions. Sweet potato biscuits may zig and zag from additions of acorn squash butter and green harissa. A veneer of sorghum turns thick blocks of bacon into salty candy. Persimmon salsa might jolt silver dollar pancakes. Brooks walks the walk when it comes to cooking with the moment’s harvests from local farms.
To relish the full measure of Brooks’ virtuosity, veer specifically to the menu’s "of the moment" section. It details four or five heartier, more intricate dishes, some of which change daily. In summer you might find a croissant bread pudding hiding squash blossoms and oyster mushrooms in its buttery creases, or a lentil and roasted root vegetable salad with soft egg and celery leaf pesto in cooler months.
The coffee is duly great, and then there are the alcoholic beverages. Expected bloody mary variations and pitchers of mimosas make their appearance, but the selection also dips into French 75 and milk punch cocktails, shots of small batch mezcals, a Prairie Gold sour ale, and a Tuscan red by the glass to go with that lamb burger. It is a thoughtfully composed, thirst-inducing list by any standard of restaurant, let alone for one that turns off its lights well before happy hour begins.