We’ve had Milk Bar by Ish and their amazing Malteser pie, and now here’s Cowbell 808 – bringing it in a big way with their takes on milk bar classics.
Go for soft, fluffy ricotta hotcakes topped with a scoop of bacon-flavoured ice cream and bittersweet espresso syrup sandwiching a river of mascarpone. It’s certainly not a one-man operation, unless you’re a carb-loading sicko or have the metabolism of a ten-year-old. It is, however, effing delicious.
They’re also doing a really exceptional burger on a soft, house-made bun. Perfectly hand-sized, the patty’s covered in melted cheese and big squeeze of American-style mustard, a little lettuce and plenty of pickles. It’s about as close as you’ll find to Melbourne’s Huxtaburger
Fried chicken covered in a thin chickpea batter doesn’t quite hit the mark the way the other dishes do – something about the mealy batter just doesn’t quite gel, though the crisp cauliflower ’slaw is a nice riff on the original.
They pull a decent coffee here, as well as serve Jones sugarcane sodas (we like the creaming soda – it tastes just like marshmallow fluff), milkshakes and fresh orange juice. But we’re mostly excited about the food and the super-friendly service. There’s even a sleepy old dog sunning himself on an old mat out the front, and Laminex tables of all shapes and sizes are dotted through the room (including one with an iron-shaped scorchy melt mark in it).
It’s a cute room, too – there’s a Lego head in the corner propping up a huge stack of vinyl including Fine Young Cannibals, DEVO, Bruce Springsteen and Bowie, while the open kitchen boasts a thunderbolt backdrop. We count at least four boom boxes on the walls and a set of traffic lights in the corner. It’s like someone’s dream 1980s rumpus room.
We’re pretty keen to go back for their pork ’n’ beans on toast, and maybe the bananacolada – house-made coconut yoghurt and grilled banana. Oh, the breakfast, and breakfast dessert, possibilities.