Via Mengoni, 2
In the mornings when in Italy one must venture out for coffee – it’s the law (unofficially). In a city such as Milan where style reigns supreme you will come across a tonne of swish places to enjoy the italians favourite start to the morning. We were heading across the city early doors to search out Pasticceria Cucchi near the Porta Genova.
Sadly we left the map back in the hotel and guesswork got us nowhere although on a brighter note we did happen to come across the Navigli district, famous for it’s canalside aperitivo hour and popular student hangouts. This early in the morning though none of it’s bars and restaurants were open for trade.
So we decided to head back into town to the Duomo area still in search of coffee and perhaps a cake to make up for the panettone we would be missing at Cucchi. On our first trip to Milan we walked away from the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II after viewing the prices of some of the outlets inside. It’s strange how you can walk the distance of two streets away and the price comes down by half leading us to a smart looking cafe and restaurant called Grenaio.
Whoever designed Grenaio really wanted it all under one roof – there’s everything here. Ice cream displayed through an outside opening, a cafe seating area with waitresses busily taking orders and customers gazing at the chef’s in the open kitchen. Then there’s the long bar with it’s businessmen in armani suits sipping espresso and just for a bit of variation, us, the tourists.
Grenaio is actually a chain in Milan of cafe and restaurant’s such as this with branches spread throughout the city along with one in neighbouring Monza. The Duomo branch on our visit was very popular with the locals as many passed through for a coffee and a sweet pastry. We decided to get a hot chocolate and a latte macchiato along with two honey croissants. The hard part really is deciding which pastry to go for from the superb array in the cabinet.
I’ve never seen barista’s working so quickly. Just two guys behind the counter and as more customers arrived the pace increased rapidly. It took a little while for our drinks to be prepared as many of the espresso orders took priority but soon enough we had our drinks presented in some very unique glassware.
The hot chocolate was rich and came with a wafer biscuit topped off with whipped cream – nice and sweet with a great flavour. The macchiato was one of the best i’ve had, in fact worth it for the glass alone! The honey croissant’s were filled with a sweet apricot jam which made for a very sugary experience but ultimately was a very well made pastry.
We asked at the bar about how to go about paying the bill. Many customers had got a small receipt from the barista along with their drinks, we hadn’t. As it turned out the barista’s pointed us in the direction of the cash desk near the exit where you just tell the lady what you had and she tallies up the final bill, this is how all places should be in my opinion to save waiting around at the end.
I couldn’t believe the total – just €1.50 (£1.32) for a cup of coffee! Compare that to sitting outside a place in the Galleria and you’re talking €1.50 as your cover charge. Outstanding value as the entire bill came to €7 (£6.16) for the two of us. We sneaked a peek at the restaurant prices while we were enjoying our drinks and it has to be said they are very decent for this part of town.
Yet again our nose for a budget place has struck again. Grenaio’s Duomo branch is smart, welcoming and you might even get a bit of English from the friendly barista’s. One certainty is that you will enjoy a quality cup of coffee and some good food to go with it. We would highly recommend this place to start your day in Milan.
Opening times: Daily 0700-0000
Nearest Metro: Duomo