Poor C. It's not easy being the significant other of a food blogger. Sometimes he comes second to food, sometimes I subtly pay him out in these reviews, and sometimes I drag him around looking for food places/ingredients/restaurants on a calm Sunday when he would, I'm sure, much rather be doing other things.
A couple of months ago I was driving around looking for this 'French looking shop' I had seen out on towards Ashgrove when I stumbled upon "The Milk Bar." This looked like a cute, retro styled little joint from the outside and I knew I just had to try it.
I was lucky enough to have THE CUTEST authentic Milk Bar in my town when I was growing up. It was called the Busy Bee Cafe and literally was still run by the same family that had been running it for 50ish years. They had booths, and cute milkshake machines and orange freezes. All they made were toasted sandwiches, but damn, they did them well. Underagers knew this was the go to joint to buy cigarettes- probably because the lady that worked there was so old, she couldn't really see very well and thought anyone that was taller than her was probably older than her. On top of all this, you could still buy chicos and jelly babies in boxes- I'm not sure if they specially ordered the stock or had them left over from the 80's, but these little touches just completed the place. Suffice to say I miss the little place, as it recently closed down after being converted to an awful hot box styled takeaway.
Anyway, Milkbar caught my eye, so after looking through 'The French Corner' as I found it was called when I arrived, C was more than happy to sit down for some refreshments. When i say the Milkbar Cafe caught my eye- I pretty much mean it. The sunshine yellow shades outside are a bright welcoming sign and when stepping in, it is clear the team at Milkbar have extended the concept well beyond the name. The shop walls are papered with old school black and white images and the display cases were filled with cupcakey treats. There were even yellow, cushy, boothy type seats that I got a little too excited about.
The menu offers a glimpse back into the 60's-80's, and (indeed my own childhood) with a whole list full of spiders- the ridiculously crazy mixture of soft drink and ice cream that usually ends with the kids drinking it, being coaxed down from the walls. I have to say though, the flavours available were less cherry cheer and more rose petal and lime, so perhaps a touch more sophisticated than back in my day(I'm sooo old to be able to write that). This was a nice touch- as was the milkshake selection. Except I'm still confused as to why they wrote - "flavours available (in reverse order of popularity)" on the menu- way to make things complicated.
C was tempted by the spiders but ended up going with a classic chocolate milkshake- which came served in glass with two straws along side a proper milkshake cup with the leftovers. This is exactly how Busy Bee used to serve too- bless! The milkshake was $4.5 and was made with syrup, one scoop of lite ice cream and milk for $4.5. C would probably prefer if Milk increased the cost of the milkshakes to $5 or reduced the cost of the thickshakes to $5 just so he can have a $5 shake. Just a pulp fictionised personal request. Aside from that- the milkshake was ok. It could have done with some extra chocolate and extra icecream i.e he probably should have ordered a thickshake because the milkshake for him, was a little lacking.
Given my aversion to ice cream, I went with a dairy free raspberry frappe, which I can't seem to remember the price of. It was from memory- around the $4- $5 mark too. Disappointingly, the frappe, I'm pretty sure,was from a packet mix and I have tasted identical versions before. I think it is made up from powder and blended with ice. It's a real shame this wasn't a fresh fruit version, which would have added to the authenticity of the place.
The lunch menu doesn't look very MilkBar 60's ish but does offer some modern, fresh options such as gourmet burgers, salads and sandwiches all of which are priced under $16.
The sweet selection is quite quaint and C and I decided to share a brownie for $4.5. The brownie was a fair size but generally lacked flavour and wasn't a fabulous treat. This was gluten free, but even so, I have had much better gluten free versions before. Gluten free should not be an excuse for second rate taste.
Funnily enough, when I went to order the brownie, I found $50 on the floor. This cafe is situated right next to Woolworths so I had horrible visions of someone not being able to buy groceries for the week because they had stopped in for a treat on the way and lost their $50. After enquiring with every other customer that had been before me, I handed it to the girl at the register -so I hope she has the good nature to keep it there just in case someone came looking for it. If you lost it, go claim! This, after all, would fit in with the theme of the Milk Bar, which is channelling, what I'm led to believe, was a more honest time.
The Milk Bar is a cute concept. If you want to show someone from the younger generation what Milk Bar's used to be like, this is probably the closest thing in Brisbane. There are two locations for the Milk Bar Cafe- one in Ashgrove and one at Newmarket. They offer a nice selection of lunch items (although you wouldn't find anything as healthy in a real Milk Bar) and have some old school options on the drinks/sweets menu. It's a shame they haven't perfected some of the options such as the frappe, because otherwise, it's a really nice place to hang out and listen to Buddy Holly.
When to go: When you want to reminisce or when you have borrowed someone else's kids for the day - to take them and hype them up on spiders knowing you can give them back at the end of the day.
Shop 9, 16 Ashgrove Avenue
(in front of Woolworths)