The menu allows you to mastermind many variations on this classic order – you can "double up", or even extension-build further and go for a three-level beef pattie/cheese/pickle/ketchup/grilled-onion combination (watch out for the lockjaw).
You can also go multi-storey with the bacon cheeseburger ($16) or switch citizenship and go Hawaiian (grilled chicken, pineapple, sweet chilli and avocado), Japanese (pickled daikon, carrot, cabbage and wasabi mayo) and Italian (parmesan, rocket, tomato, aioli) – the latter endorsed by Will ("it was wrong in all the right ways"), while Tamara liked her "classic" one-level, no-DA-necessary cheeseburger. And vegetarians needn't skip over the burger section, as chef/owner Joshua Nicholls will be adding a tofu option this coming week.
The "And Things" support list includes the Crab Omelette ($24), a dish with the odd megawatt of spotlight from its time as a signature dish in Cafe Ish's previous incarnation in Surry Hills.
It's nice to see Josh and his co-owner/barista wife Ai Mashima set up a new place, after the much-lamented closure of their former establishment last month. And while this venture is different from the old Cafe Ish – with its double life of cafe by day, izakaya by night – it still maintains the fun and inventive nature of what they were doing. There's "Ai's freaking awesome chicken wings" ($13), for instance, and a Porridge ($9), that comes with a jug of good Jersey cream and dish of even-better choc buds that you tip into the lovely disorder of stewed apples, warm milk, honey and raisins – watching the choc swirls melt into the mess and then getting to scoop up the fruit-sweet, spiced-choc, dairy jumble is a fine activity. Being a weirdo, I had this with a side of Roast Mushrooms ($4), which were garlicky and flavour-stacked; many wasabi-mayo-dipped fries and a bit of crumbed pineapple (which goes greatly when airdropped through the aforementioned mayonnaise, too).
Being a milk bar, there are killer shakes: the Red Racer ($7) is a get-you-to-the-finishing-line blitz of strawberry, rosewater, rosella and raspberry that tastes as good as a victory lap, while another option sees the salty-buttery-sweet multiple personality of miso getting on rather well, flavour-wise, with caramel and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. I'd like to try the Super Choc ($7), which is a triple-load of what it promises, in Milo, Lindt and ice-cream form.
Also making the most of milk-bar expectations, there is a jukebox, where a coin-drop grants you the chance to be mealtime DJ (after nerdish CD-scouring, I went for Beastie Boys, Franz Ferdinand, Cyndi Lauper, Blur, INXS, Outkast and some M83 for Will). The selection is oddly broad if you scan closely – there are a lot of cheesy chart-toppers and Dad Rock albums (which are great, undeniably), but also the chance to enjoy some "who knew this would be here?" picks – like Hermitude and Gerling.
Loose change will also score you a pixellated time-trip, as there's an old-school arcade game with Galaga, Pacman, Mrs Pacman and 50-something more options. Appropriately enough, one of the choices is BurgerTime, where you competitively sling buns, lettuce and patties together. (I asked Will if he liked this game: "It was really hard," he said. "I kept being killed by all the hot dogs.")
There's also a lolly counter (get your fill of bananas, jelly babies, Fantales, cola bottles and raspberries for $2.50/100g) and other items to bait your sweet tooth – Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Cookies ($3), Apple & Caramel Upside Down Cake ($5.50) and Lemon Cream Custard Tarts ($4.50), for instance. And the coffee, by Coffee Alchemy, is good. (The fact it's made on a La Marzocco that cost as much as a small car probably is not a disadvantage.)
I have a feeling you'll be hearing a bit about this place – if the amusing and unintentional traffic jam of bloggers today was anything to go by. One post to look out for – Chocolate Suze's write-up (incidentally, it was nice to meet her after blog-following her all these years).
Another reason you'll notice The Milk Bar by Cafe Ish – it's one of many examples of how Redfern really is starting to light up with new, interesting establishments in such quick succession – Hustle & Flow is opening two doors door, around the corner is The Dock (which is less than a year old) and a few footsteps further, they're building The Martian Embassy, which is the gift shop and intergalatic entry point for The Sydney Story Factory – and while that isn't a venture geared around appetites or drinking habits, it's going to add a lot, creatively, to this part of town. And note-worthy, too, is the excellent bar, Arcadia Liquors, which started operating across the road in June.
Another case for The Milk Bar By Cafe Ish's deserving of attention is the fact it's wholeheartedly a fun place to dine. And with the eventual inclusion of Chiko Rolls on the menu, the only thing missing, really, is a burger phone.
The Milk Bar by Cafe Ish, 105 Regent St, Redfern. Follow The Milk Bar By Cafe Ish on Twitter.