I had extremely high expectations of Jazz City Milk Bar. As one of the pioneers of the American Diner food movement in Sydney, I was expecting a full-on 50’s style milk bar – something that looked like it was lifted from the set of Grease. Complete with jukebox, red booth seats and waitresses in full skirts and roller-skates. I expected the kind of food that you would see on Epic Meal Time or thisiswhyyourefat.com. Food so excessive that your arteries would clog just by looking at it.
The perfect place to treat my two hungriest male friends, Michael and Alex. I warned them both to come hungry.
We arrive and the place is, well, tiny. So small. Can’t call it a restaurant, a diner, or even a café – it’s a little counter with just enough seating to fit around 20 people? It’s squeezed between Phamish Vietnamese Café and Lucio’s Pizzeria in the Republic 2 Courtyard in Darlinghurst.
But venue size doesn’t necessarily reflect portion size right? The hope was still alive.
In spite of its smallness, the Milk Bar still has some really nice retro touches. A row of milkshake mixers, vintage posters and black and white checkerboard floor tiles. You do feel somewhat transported back in time, especially when it’s in sepia.
To start our evening of gorging we ordered milkshakes. You can’t go to a retro diner and not share a malted milkshake with your sweetheart.
We chose coconut and peanut butter ($8 each). The shakes are super thick and sweet, they could be a whole meal by themselves. That is, if you’re a pansy little girl!!! Our iron stomachs were only getting started.
FFKF raves about the burgers here, but I couldn’t look past the chicken and waffles ($24). I’d never had chicken and waffles. To me, chicken and waffles is the stuff of legends – a dream from the deep south of the United States. In my mind, I was visualising a high stack of golden waffles, soggy with maple syrup, topped with a generous heap of crunchy southern fried chicken with a 1:1 deep fried batter to meat ratio. And then some more maple syrup. A shameless feast of sugar, fats and carbs.
So when my plate was presented to me…
… I couldn’t hide my disappointment. One layer of waffle and only two wing-sized pieces of fried chicken. Two sad little pieces.
This makes no sense to me. Chicken and waffles is a “go hard or go home” kind of dish. And for 24 bucks, I could have bought an entire bucket of KFC.
Also, I thought it was meant to be “chicken and waffles”, not “waffles and chicken”. There wasn’t enough chicken to go around, so one of my buddies enjoyed half of my waffle as a kind of pre-dessert.
The boys went for the burgers.
Pork belly burger w/ French fries ($19), grilled slice pork belly with Boston baked beans, pickled cucumber, tomato, caramelised onions and lettuce)
Johnny’s Fatboy burger w/ Creole potato French fries ($19), Texas style spicy beef chilli, beef patty, crispy bacon, onions, pickle relish, mayo, lettuce, tomato, cheese and American mustard
These burgers sound INCREDIBLE on paper. In real life… yeah they’re, okay. I was expecting big, fat sloppy abominations that would make the boys pant and drool like dogs. What we got were normal sized, tasty burgers. Nothing that really takes the burger beyond the quality of the average “gourmet burger” joint you’d find in every suburb in Sydney.
We also got a size of underwhelming chilli cheese fries ($10). The chilli cheese fries at Mr Crackles would eat these chilli cheese fries for breakfast.
With a decent amount of space left in our stomachs after our unexpectedly sensible-sized mains, we ordered PIES with ice cream!
Pecan chocolate pie with pecan ice cream ($11) – which, according to FFKF, is insanely good.
Cherry pie with vanilla ice cream ($11) – ordered purely so that Michael could have a legitimate reason to use his new favourite word: “tart”.
Yes the cherry pie was, indeed, lovely and “tart” and the pecan chocolate was delicious and decadent, but I understand that it is only a shadow of the greatness of the pure pecan pie at Jazz City Diner.
If I were a inner city/easter suburbs local, I would totally go back for burgers and a sweet slice of pie. Might even become a regular. But I don’t think it’s quite worth the drive from the West + 20 minutes of circling the streets of Darlinghurst for free parking, only to give up and park in a 1P spot praying that the parking rangers won’t be lurking around.
While it didn’t meet my fatty fatty boombah expectations, we had a really fun meal at Jazz City Milk Bar, but more because of the company. My friend Alex is an aspiring food model. We thought we could start a new trend of food photography, where each dish is modelled by a particularly attractive member of the dining party.
What do you think – think it will catch on?
Jazz City Milk Bar
Republic 2 Building Courtyard
Palmer Street (between Liverpool and Burton Street)