as children of a certain era, growing up in australia meant regular trips to the local milk bar, charged with the important task of fetching the family’s milk and bread. mum would send us down the street making sure there would be enough change to purchase some mixed lollies as our reward. it was the cornerstone of our neighbourhood, at least it felt that way to us. after school we’d meet our friends on the corner, bikes thrown against each other, blocking passers-by, we would jostle inside, hands stretched forward, palms flat holding shiny silver coins, eager to swap them for icy poles or raspberry lollies.
but this milk bar, this one is different. different because it’s not on a street corner in the little melbourne suburb where we grew up, but because it’s in london, england! the place of kings and queens and narrow cobbled streets. the place where many aussies and kiwis call home. the place where we feel a special sort of homesickness, for good, honest, melbourne coffee, strong and rich, and the milk steamed just so. not too hot, but not cold, because we antipodeans know that coffee is for quaffing, and sometimes too for gulping.
the unassuming little sister to the famous flat white around the corner, milk bar sits patiently, awaiting our arrival, ready at the helm with refreshment and comfy seats. because we are aussies we drink flat whites, because we no longer feel the need to order ‘cafe lattes’ as if it was the 90’s and we need to seem cool. we order ‘avocado smash’ like cafe savvy people do, and devour the creamy tangy dish, hungry for more because it’s ok to be a little indulgent when you come to a place like this. a place where nostalgia meets the modern day. sometimes we perch on old school chairs as we take it all in and, if we’re lucky, we might just hear that familiar twang that reminds of our faraway homes. and because it reminds us of home, we might just stay a little while longer and indulge in a little lamington, washed down with more coffee. because we are on holiday and we can and we love this little cafe.
3 bateman street, soho,
london w1d 4ag, uk