Bhaji pav is a superb gingery vegie 'soup'. Photo: Eddie Jim
Ah, the milk bar, such a chunky piece of Australian nostalgia that gets us all misty-eyed for bullets and musk sticks and speckly freckles. But while many milk bars - like landlines and safe Labor seats - are in their death throes, others are being reclaimed by the next generation, reborn into cool, back-street cafes.
Adeney Milk Bar, a shoestring 30-seater in an ''eyesore'' milk bar that had been rundown and shut for years, is the first of its genre in Kew. It's run by the brother-sister team of James, 27, and Cat, 30, Laskie, who are forging new ground in their home suburb.
''I went to Xavier, Cat went to Genazzano, and our mum used to get the milk and newspapers from here when we were growing up,'' says James, who also owns 30 Mill cafe in Malvern.
Taste of the future: Adeney Milk Bar is enjoying a next-generation revival. Photo: Eddie Jim
Two days before opening, the Laskies' Slayer coffee machine and three grinders - worth $37,000 - were stolen. They were gutted. It was the major expense of the business and the fresh, white fit-out (made by their ''very handy'' dad) was designed around the custom pearl white machine. Adeney opened on Anzac Day, two days later than planned.
They have a Synesso now, fully loaded with Industry Beans coffee. The Slayer has never been recovered, but the silver lining from the theft was the publicity and generation of local support.
Adeney's a cute place, with a prime possie opposite Victoria Park. Dog walkers favour the chunky picnic tables in the sun trap out front. The walk-up coffee window goes gangbusters at weekends when the footy (or cricket) is on, and there's usually a post-park toddler or two after a romp on the giant slide.
Typical of this style of cafe, the kitchen is tiny and the menu limited, but the offerings are well-pitched with healthy, easy food.
Expect classics, such as smashed avocado, pimped with fresh chilli, coriander and lime; straight-up ham and cheese toasties; or sesame-seed bagels with smoked salmon, cream cheese, chives and cucumber - next time, I'm asking for the bagel to be toasted.
Menu standouts are the Indian specials by Raj Patel. It might be bhaji pav, a superb gingery vegie ''soup'', more like a mild stew, with baked pappadums, cucumber raita and toasted, buttery ciabatta on the side, or five spice rice and tandoori chicken.
Cat makes the sweets, such as the dense blueberry muffins, and her mum does a mean carrot cake. ''Our parents are so helpful,'' Cat says, ''We're so lucky that we have such a close family.''
For milk bar nostalgics, you can still buy $1 lolly bags and giant-sized freckles. Adeney Milk Bar - it's the Kew kids, all grown up.
Do … Watch the cockatoos and have a kick in the park opposite
Don't … Bring a broadsheet; it's squeezy
Dish … The special bhaji pav
Vibe … Buzzy, fresh local with great coffee
Twitter: @ninarousseau, or firstname.lastname@example.org
- 03 9817 3993
- Cuisine - Contemporary
- Prices - Breakfasts, $4-$12; lunches, $10-$14; cakes, $4
- Cards accepted - Mastercard, Visa, EFTPOS
- Opening Hours - Mon-Fri, 7am-4pm; Sat-Sun, 8am-4pm
- Author - Nina Rousseau