• Bendigo Street Milk Bar (Bendigo Street, Burnley)

Let me set the scene for my first visit to Bendigo Street: it was a 40 degree day; the new chef’s second day; and the first day for a new waitress. After making a few enquiries the staff indicated that the chef was tweaking the menu and they were still settling down the café’s offering.

The single airconditioning unit was struggling a bit with the heat but the two ceiling fans provided some relief.

The second visit was a few weeks later. This was a more “normal” day in terms of the weather; the new staff were settled; and a new menu in place.

The café attracts an interesting clientele. There were 3 tables for 6 and 5 tables for 2. In addition there was a small annexe off the main café which had 5 small tables. Outside there are a number of tables with market umbrellas. In addition, out the back is a small courtyard with several tables. At lunch there was a diverse clientele with workers from the development of the old Channel 9 site opposite; some professional types, some couples and a group of young women on their lunch break; a mother with a pram. They all seemed to be embracing the Bendigo Street as their neighbourhood place to drop into for “ gorgeous food, coffee and conversation”.

The ambience is warm and friendly and has a retro décor throughout. It certainly does have the feel of an old style milkbar.   This “milkbar” does offer some pretty gorgeous food. At lunch there were a couple of vegetarian dishes on offer  and breakfast is available all day so ordered the poached eggs with field mushrooms, lemon, garlic, rocket and goats cheese on a thick slice of ciabatta toast ($18). This was a nicely crafted dish: the eggs were runny, the mushrooms fleshy, and the other ingredients were very well balanced in their subtleties of flavour and texture. The test of a good dish is complexity with subtlety and this dish certainly passed the test.

We decided to try 2 desserts: the French toast ($16) and the coconut  cake ($4.90). Both looked delicious. For me the benchmark French toast is the one made by Peter Gilmore from Quay in Sydney. So when ordering I never really expect French toast to reach the great heights achieved by Peter Gilmore.  Bendigo St does produce a very good French toast. It was made from Vienna bread, orange segments, maple syrup, fresh mint and dusted with icing sugar. The presentation was excellent and the contrasting flavours created a quite exotic version of the traditional French toast.

The coconut cake it reminded me of the cake my mother used to make. It was a coconut flavoured buttercake with a thick coconut icing. This had some nice texture and flavours. Trying this cake was a nostalgic experience (what Bendigo St is all about) and I have to admit it felt like sitting down at the kitchen table with the family and celebrating mum’s cooking.

The piccolo coffee (Monte) ($3.50) was strong, creamy, with a hint of maltiness and a rich ending.
It’s always interesting visiting a café/restaurant when they are experiencing a few challenges and then visiting again in more normal circumstances. The first visit was challenging for both staff and customers, but Bendigo St had such a good feel about  it I wanted to return for a second visit. There are a few cafés which are retro and situated in residential neighbourhoods or streets. They are a very welcome addition to any neighbourhood. What I liked about Bendigo St: a great ambiance, very welcoming and relaxed, and staff who are efficient but friendly and charming. And yes, the coffee is excellent and overall they are justified in claiming the food is “gorgeous”.

About the Author
Michael is passionate about food and wine. He worked in the wine industry for 3 years (a dream job) and learnt about food through cooking with friends from extremely diverse backgrounds. Michael enjoys cooking a range of European and Asian inspired dishes, but his main passion is creating cakes, tarts and desserts.

Bendigo Street Milk Bar
37 Bendigo Street
Burnley 3121
03 9428 4196
Open breakfast til 5pm every day

Bendigo Street Milk Bar on Urbanspoon