A Cheap Lunch Attempt at Navigating Milo & Olive
As much I love Huckleberry and consider it hands down the best brunch and baked goods on the westside, I can’t in good conscience call it a Midtown Lunch. Even the few things that clock in at under $10 (like their excellent $9.50 egg sandwich) aren’t exactly a stellar value. But when I heard that the owners of Huckleberry and Rustic Canyon were opening Milo & Olive, a new bakery/restaurant specializing in pizza and small plates, I got kind of excited. Especially when I heard that it had very few seats and planned on doing a ton of take out business.
A lot of take out? That sounds like it could be right up my alley. Could this be the cheapskate, lunchtime version of Huckleberry I’ve always dreamed about? Only one way to find out…
As promised, Milo & Olive is pretty damn small. There are two communal tables that seat 8 people each and a counter with another 8 seats. There is no doubt this place will be perennially packed. But those of us hoping for a more casual alternative to Huckleberry are in for a bit of a disappointment. The menu seems more like an extension of Rustic Canyon then a take out lunch place, featuring refined (read: expensive) $11-13 salads, $14-18 pizzas and $8-20 small plates, all clearly meant for sharing. Getting out of this place for under $10 ordering off the menu is basically impossible, so I turned to the bakery counter to see if a nice takeout lunch could be pieced together.
The bakery counter at Huckleberry is one of the best in the city, so it would be practically impossible for Milo & Olive to disappoint. The sweet stuff is well represented, but there is a nice percentage of savory stuff as well.
The most obvious lunchtime choice would have to be the two sandwiches ($9.50). There’s a mozzarella and sun dried tomato sando with olive tapenade, piquillo peppers, and arugula.
But we opted for the cured artisan meats with provolone, topped with house pickled peppers. All the ingredients were as top notch as you’d imagine, including the house made giardiniere- which gave the sandwich a nice kick.
As good as it was, though, calling the sliver you get for $9.50 a sandwich is a bit of a stretch. And considering that Bay Cities is in the same general area, I can’t imagine going back to M&O for their pricey version of the godmother unless they make the slices a little bit bigger or the price a little bit cheaper.
The hunk of quiche, on the other hand, was a crowd pleaser. The rich eggy center was incased perfectly by the thick, buttery crust, and it was so good at room temperature it didn’t even need to be heated up. The $6.50 price tag felt a bit more fair than with the sandwich, but if they paired this with a side salad for a couple of extra bucks, it would be the perfect lunch.
There’s also a flatbread option every day ($5.50) but the dense, puffy slice felt more like focaccia than anything you would describe as “flat”. This too would go perfect with a salad, but it didn’t feel like anything that would pass as a lunch.
The ham & cheese croissant, on the other hand, felt a bit more lunch’ish and was (of course) delicious. Plus at $3.50 it makes it a lot easier to pair up with other things.
Since none of the baked goods can really pass as a lunch on their own, it’s likely you’ll have to turn to the menu and find a friend to share. The salads seem like the obvious choice, but even at $11-13 they’re a bit on the small side. The $13 Coleman Farms lettuce salad with persimmon, pomegranate seeds and pine nuts was positively delicious, but I don’t know if it’s big enough to share with a second person- even if it was paired with the quiche.
In the end it’s going to be extremely difficult to visit Milo & Olive and not leave with one of their already outstanding pizzas. Size-wise they’re on par with what most of the comparable places in L.A., making them perfect for sharing- but not exactly a lunch for two. That being said, if you like pizza as a showcase for a master bread baker, you’re going to find Milo & Olive worth the splurge. The mushroom pizza we tried was pretty fantastic, but getting to enjoy it while keeping your bill under $10 per person will be practically impossible. (Hopefully they’ll add some takeout specials ala Mozza2Go!)
Trying to convince myself that Milo & Olive is a Midtown Lunch turned out to be even more of a stretch than a weekday lunch at Huckleberry, but it doesn’t mean I won’t be back. Everything these guys seem to do ends up perfect, and M&O is no exception. Sadly, though, it will just have to be a weekend splurge for me.
THE + (What somebody who loves this place would say)
- The baked goods are my favorite part about Huckleberry, and this place has pizza too!
- My favorite pizzas are the ones that taste like they were made by bread bakers, with minimal char… Milo & Olive’s is perfect.
- Money should never been an option when amazing food is involved… screw $10 an under. I just want a great lunch.
- For the quality of the ingredients, it’s actually very reasonable.
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- I like my pizza cooked very quickly, in a super hot oven. Bring on the char!
- $13 for a side salad? Screw that!
- I think Huckleberry is waaaay overpriced, and Milo & Olive is no different.
- If I’m going to pay Rustic Canyon prices, I don’t want to be jammed into a communal table or forced to take the food to go.
- Once this place really gets going, the walkway leading to the bakery counter is going to be an absolute mad house.
Milo & Olive, 2723 Wilshire Blvd., 310.453.6776