Just a short walk from Redfern station sits Milk Bar, the latest offering from Josh and Ai Nicholls from the former Cafe Ish in Surry Hills (of the soft shell crab omelette fame). Not to be confused with Newtown's Milkbar, this Regent Street venue is a narrow cafe with two little outdoor tables and very basic decor. You could easily walk past it without paying it any attention. But this would be a mistake.
Home to one of the most outstanding milkshake selections in Sydney, this small venue offers fabulous creations like Bounty, Choc Mint, Bubblegum and PBJ. True shake fans should make it a personal mission for 2014 to sample every single one of them.
Fear not, dairy-intolerant readers, there's more to Milk Bar than the milk. The generous menu includes all-day breakfast favourites like eggs and pancakes, some healthy salad options and a very impressive array of tofu, beef and chicken burgers (free-range and pasture-fed, it should be noted). Whether you're craving a classic double cheeseburger with bacon or fancy trying the confidently named Fried Chicken with Freakin' Awesome Sauce Burger, these guys have a burger option for every fast-food inclined palate. Fries are optional but recommended.
This writer felt like a challenge and so ordered the more experimental Tofu Japanese burger, accompanied by miso sauce, daikon, cabbage slaw and wasabi mayonnaise. Instantly charmed by its compact appearance, I was then sobered by the waitress's warning that "it may look cute but it's really filling." Indeed it was — thanks to the incredibly thick slab of tofu and the richness of the pleasingly messy wasabi mayonnaise. It was made manageable by the refreshing, slightly bitter cabbage slaw, the sharpness of the miso sauce and the crunchy daikon. Great bread, too, baked on the premises.
Balancing out the mild eccentricity of the burger option was a classic vanilla milkshake, made with creamy, velvety milk from the Hunter Valley, Serendipity ice cream and a vanilla syrup that recalled many happy childhood sugar adventures. It was supremely drinkable, though — so light and frothy that I drained both the glass and the leftovers at remarkable speed. More of a thinshake than a thickshake.
Afterwards, there was just enough room for a couple of doughnuts: first the slightly chewy, warming cinnamon kind (true comfort food) and then their downright sexually attractive jam-filled cousin. By this point, total food coma was achieved.
With very affordable prices ($5 burgers), chilled staff and a constantly changing menu, this is a great addition to the Redfern neighbourhood that will hopefully be around for a long, long time.