Food, Culture and Community: Milktooth
photos by Kelley Jordan Photography
Fletcher Place is home to many great establishments such as Bluebeard and Calvin Fletchers Coffee House. If you have not been down Virginia Avenue in a while, you might notice something different about where the crowds are gathering. Here is a hint: they're not waiting in line at 534 Virginia Ave to get their cars fixed at the auto-repair shop, which used to exist there. Recently, the building was converted into a brand new brunch spot called Milktooth, created by chef/owner Jon Brooks and his wife, Ashley.
Both Jon and Ashley have extensive backgrounds in the culinary arts. Most recently, Jon was the former head chef at Recess for many years and before working at Goose the Market, Ashley was head cheesemaker at Traders Point Creamery. Since opening Milktooth, Ashley has taken more of an administrative role to deal with the business side of things while Jon has run the kitchen and created menus using ingredients almost exclusively from local purveyors.
A classy brunch spot is something rather new for Indianapolis and Milktooth sets the standard for any to follow. While honeymooning in Portland, Oregon, Jon and Ashley took note of the thriving brunch scene which appeared to be an everyday type of outing for many locals there. Both being from Indianapolis, the two felt a need to fill that gap for their neighborhood with their passion for great food.
Besides fresh pastries and coffee, the menu is fresh, exciting and very approachable within the old-style diner setting, furnished with a completely open kitchen, where you can sit at the bar and watch the kitchen in action. An open kitchen was one of Jon's ideas while constructing the interior; prior to purchasing the building, Jon had his car in the used-to-be auto shop and had a feeling he could see his restaurant in the building. The resulting atmosphere in Milktooth is wonderful: tall ceilings, lots of natural light flowing in through the garage-door windows and a cozy decor.
For Jon, the whole idea of having his own restaurant is about the hospitality he and Ashley have the opportunity to provide. "A lot of young chefs tend to forget that it's not about individual creativity every dish, every time," says Jon. The diner umbrella is perfect for this humble outlook from such a talented chef in that it creates a sense of simplicity or the homeyness one can feel when eating biscuits and gravy at grandma's house. All in all, Milktooth is a refreshing idea for the local food scene and a wonderful addition to a neighborhood full of people working with the community in mind.