There is no question that some of the most memorable meals we’ll ever have are those with a healthy dose of nostalgia mixed in. Whether it’s a subtle cue or an outright ode, memories can prove one of the most important ingredients a cook or a chef can use to engage a diner. Growing up in Australia, for many the milkbar was the first place outside of the home that we experienced indulgent food experiences; from lollies and biscuits to milkshakes and hamburgers, everyone has a favourite old school Aussie classic tucked somewhere in their hearts. Here’s a selection of restaurants and eateries where you can get that nostalgic fix.
Brisbane may be giving Melbourne and Sydney a run for its money in the culinary stakes, but that doesn’t mean Dagwood Dogs are off the menu. Head to Gerard’s Bar for chef Ben Williamson’s cheeky take on the milkbar slash carnival classic, his tricked-up version is made from ‘nduja, which is battered and fried and served up with pickled garlic and creamed corn.
13a/23 James St, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006 | gerardsbar.com.au
Lamingtons and sausage rolls
Trust chef Peter Gilmore to bring humour and elegance to the People’s House. His fine diner beneath the sails at the Sydney Opera House is an ode to everything that makes Australian dining great; brilliant produce, warm service, and a touch of the old familiar. In this case, sausage rolls are made with suckling pig and umami-laden black garlic, while the humble lamington is interpreted like you’ve never seen it before – layers of preserved cherry jam, coconut cream, cherry ice cream and chocolate ganache, coated in a chocolate mirror glaze.
Bennelong Point, Sydney Opera House, Sydney NSW 2000 | bennelongrestaurant.com.au
Recently crowned regional restaurant of the year, The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery & Store has more than one good thing going for it. Owners Rodney Dunn & Severine Demanet have carved out a piece of cooking school gold at The Agrarian Kitchen, but it’s the new eatery helmed at the front by the incandescent Katarina Birchmeier that’s garnering praise for its simple, blissful celebration of local produce. Golden, fried, starchy, salty and savoury, these discs of glory are served up with a tomato kasundi, a wee bit more elegant and than your average potato scallop with tom sauce, but then what else would you expect?
11A The Avenue, New Norfolk TAS 7140 | theagrariankitchen.com
Custard tarts and Iced Vovos
Cumulus Inc. and it’s sister bar Cumulus Up may be known for bistro classics and sexy snacks, but this Melbourne duo aren’t immune to the charms of the classics. Available both downstairs and up, the nutmeg tart echoes the glory that is the classic milkbar custard tart, dusted in freshly grated nutmeg and simply served with crème fraiche and candied orange. Downstairs in the pastry cabinet, there’s an ever so slightly uber interpretation of an Iced Vovo which includes a coconut shortbread base, topped with dots of Cunliffe & Waters raspberry jam, flanked by squidgy pink marshmallow, all generously dusted with desiccated coconut.
45 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000 | cumulusinc.com.au
The lollybag of dreams
Malaysian-born purveyors of all things sweet in Melbourne, Luxbite’s Bernard and Yen have honed a business out of blending fine French pastry technique with pop culture twists and a whole lotta fun. Originally created and made famous by its appearance on MasterChef, their Lollybag Cake is a spin on all our milkbar lolly favourites, rolled into one rainbow-hued confection. This 7 layered wonder starts with banana lolly joconde sponge, then a freckle crunch, jaffa ganache, musk mallow, more banana lolly joconde, spearmint leaf buttercream, all topped off with a redskins glaze.
38 Toorak Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141 | luxbite.com.au
Which one would you eat first? Whether it’s chocolate, strawberry or vanilla, or a cross section of everything (seriously, who does that?), The Continental Deli’s Neopoli-tin ice cream is the stuff of childhood dreams, sealed in a tin for your convenient pleasure. Whether you dine in or take away, that tri-coloured ice cream is about as cute as anything that comes in a tin.
210 Australia St, Newtown NSW 2042 | continentaldelicatessen.com.au
Pretty much everything
The pastel-hued, tooth-achingly cute café in Sydney’s cool inner western suburb of Petersham may appear a little bit American diner, but make no mistake, there are plenty of menu items that fly the flag for Australian milkbars. From Chiko Rolls and baked bean, cheese and oregano jaffles, to fairy bread, hot chips and cold Milo, there are also milkshakes, spiders and sundaes galore. Make no bones, Daisy’s Milkbar is truly the stuff that childhood memories are made of.
340 Stanmore Rd, Petersham NSW 2049 | daisysmilkbar.com
Feeling nostalgic? We want you! For the month of November, SBS Food is asking food lovers far and wide to get creative by putting a multicultural twist or your creative spin on an Australian classic... Welcome to #BringBackTheClassics - enter now!