Despite the advent of juice cleanses, the paleo diet and clean eating, American style diners are on the rise and continue to thrive in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
Several American style diners have popped up in Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and Newtown over the last four years, including Hartsyard, Soda Factory, Mary’s and Miss Peaches Soul Food Kitchen.
Food writer for the goodfood.com.au, Scott Bolles, says there is certainly a bigger trend in American diners in Sydney among a younger generation captivated by American culture and cuisine. “In the last three and four years a bigger sort of push in [American diners] has grown,” He said. “I think personally the good stuff is timeless.”
Jazz City Milk Bar, which opened in 2011 in Darlinghurst, was listed as one of the Top 10 American Diners in Sydney by Concreteplayground and the Urbanlist. Manager Edd Williams says the food they sell is as traditional as you can get with diner food. Their menu included several different burgers to choose from, for example the Texas Chilli Cheese Burger for those with spicy tongues down to a Pork Belly Burger and traditional cheeseburgers. The menu also includes specialities with chilli cheese fries, macaroni and cheese and various milkshake flavours that range from your expected vanilla to the not-so expected peach milkshake. What catches the imagination of so many customers is the atmosphere. The store has vintage posters hanging on its walls and big umbrellas covering the tables reminding you of cute food vans with the tables outside in those old western movies.
Another diner topping Urbanlist is the Soda Factory in Surry Hills. The diner has been popular due to its immense concentration on recreating the American culture in one perfectly adorned space. The bar is lightly illuminated by luminescent lights and the bar itself is alive with the hum of voices conversing and the music spinning you into a different era. The diner was opened by Graham Cordery in 2012 and was since classified as one of the best American diners in Sydney.
Cheryl Chew, 21, experienced Soda Factory for the first time on Thursday night.“[Soda Factory] is a lot darker than I expected. The atmosphere is very unique and that appeals to a younger generation,” she said. Mr Cordery said, “The reason we are so popular is because… we have the ability to have a stage and we have live music from the eras of the fifties Americana, so we have like a great band on Wednesday and Thursday nights.” Mr Cordery admitted there is a reason there has been a huge growth in American diners in Sydney. “The Jazz City diner, the food there is amazing and I think a lot of people kind of adopted that and really taken that style of food to the mainstream now.”
The Soda Factory is a great place to be on Thursday nights with $5 burger specials, one of them including the Big Kahuna burger which tastes of a cheeseburger with the twist of a pineapple. They have a dollar dog menu which includes the Frank Sinatra with beef, pork and american mustard.
If you are looking for a traditional American bite both Jazz City Milk Bar and the Soda Factory have agreed chicken and waffles is quintessential American soul food and is worth a try because of its sweet drizzled honey and syrup. Mr Williams says peanut butter milkshakes and their chilli cheese fries are a favourite for his customers. Mr Cordery on the other hand says a lot of Sydney customers have enjoyed coco floats (better known to us Australians as spiders).
Mr Bolles believes although American food is sustainable, Sydney “will see different trends come in as Sydney is always changing”. Let’s think for a second about burgers… cheeseburgers with pineapple and a juicy fatty meat patty with sauce that melts in your mouth and makes you drizzle, dribble and dream that it will last a little longer. – Daisy Montalvo
Top photo from The Soda Factory’s twitter account.