Milkflower – Astoria, Queens – November 26, 2016
Wood-fired pizza. The smoky, charred bits. The crispy crust. It just makes pizza better. That is what Milkflower is known for. My husband went to Milkflower a while ago, and I have been eager to try it ever since he told me how good it is.
We started our lunch with two appetizers: Smoked Eggplant Caponata and the Ricotta appetizer. The smoky soft eggplant came with burrata (a cheese made with mozzarella and cream), pinenuts, and balsamic vinegar all on top of thick, crispy pieces of toast. The mixtures of textures (crunchy, crispy, smooth, and creamy) and flavors (smoky, nutty, creamy, sweet, and acidic) made for a great start to the meal.
The Ricotta appetizer came with ricotta, black mission figs, honeycomb, thyme, sea salt, and fruit nut bread. Again, this appetizer had a wonderful mixture of textures and flavors. The creamy ricotta had the sweet figs, lemony thyme, and salt mixed through it. The toasted fruit nut bread was crunchy, sweet, and nutty. Another delicious appetizer!
The String Bean Salad was filled with crisp, bright green string beans, radicchio, orange, ricotta salata, almonds, and sun dried tomatoes. The sweet oranges and tomatoes, bitter radicchio, salty ricotta salata, and nutty almonds all tasted lovely with the string beans. The lightly acidic dressing brought all of the other flavors out.
Then came the star of the meal. The pizza! We chose the S. T. the Ghost pizza. This wood-fired, thin crust pizza came topped with coastal cheddar, mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, and burnt honey. This white pizza had lovely charred parts that complemented the crispy crust and sharp, nutty, creamy, salty flavors from the cheeses. There was a tiny hint of spicy heat, which I suspect came from red pepper, and also a hint of caramel sweetness from the burnt honey. It was fantastic!
Having said all of this, there are some accessibility issues that cannot be overlooked.
Accessibility Rating for Milkflower
I used my wheelchair to visit Milkflower.
- Entryway – 1: There is one wide door. There is one step up into the restaurant. The first time my husband had been to Milkflower, the staff told him they would get a ramp to make the entrance accessible. Upon our return (more than one month later), they still had yet to get a ramp. My husband insisted on lifting me up into the restaurant. Throughout our dining experience he kept saying, “Why shouldn’t people who use wheelchairs be able to enjoy good pizza like this?” The hostess held the door open for us while he did this. We asked a waiter to address this with the manager/owner, and he said he would. A little later on, the owner (as we were told after) showed up, stared at me, and left before I could address this concern with him. As far as I could tell, the issue of getting a ramp was not raised by the waiter to the owner while he was there. Instead of staring, it would have been better for him to come over and address me directly. Then, I would have answered the question that was written all over his face (“How did he get in?), and addressed the importance of getting an ADA compliant portable ramp or making the entrance permanently accessible. Most restaurateurs do not realize that the comparatively small cost involved in making their restaurant 100% ADA compliant could result in the disability community rewarding them with their repeat business. In my review of the bathroom (below), you will learn why the fact that Milkflower not having an ADA compliant entrance is a contradiction.
- Bathroom (Unisex) – 2: There are two bars around the toilet, though one is pretty far away from the toilet. At the time we were there this bar was being used to store extra toilet paper rolls. This is an all too common practice, and restaurant staffs need to learn that these bars are not for storing any items. The contradiction I found was that they have grab bars around the toilet (an ADA compliance requirement) while the entrance is not compliant. I could not wrap my head around this, and I would have loved to have been able to question the owner about this. The space is dimly lit and moderately sized. But, it was made even smaller by the placement of a small chest of drawers and having the garbage can right near the door. I struggled to open and close the door once I was inside with my wheelchair. This made making a 180° turn inside challenging. The sink was at an average height with one long faucet handle and a standard height faucet.
- Walkways/Space – 3: The brightly lit space has front and rear dining areas with moveable furniture throughout. The main aisle is wide, but if it is crowded I could see the entire space being difficult to negotiate for users of mobility assistive devices. I was able to fit underneath the central pedestal table with my footrests raised up. The only noise we heard while dining there was moderate volume background music being played.
Video Description: Interior of Milkflower in Astoria, Queens, NYC on November 26, 2016. The front seating area is shown with many tightly packed tables and chairs. As the camera pans, the wood for the wood fire oven can be briefly seen and then the rear dining area is shown with tables to the right of the main aisle.
- Staff – 2: The hostess held the door open when we arrived, and our waiter offered to help lift me when we left. My husband declined his help, but he held the door while we exited. Our waiter looked visibly embarrassed when we asked him about getting a ramp. Beyond this, and what I described earlier, there were no offers of help nor any questions about how my experience as a wheelchair user could have been improved. The owner staring at me, and then, avoiding approaching me spoke volumes. I think if the disability community requested Milkflower become 100% ADA compliant, they would. Please complete the anonymous poll below to show Milkflower you support them becoming 100% compliant.
- Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.