Milky Lane, 13-15 Darby Street, Newcastle
Truth be told, I'd never heard of Milky Lane before it popped up on someone's Instagram feed recently when they attended the launch here in Newcastle. Well, veni, vidi, vici - I went for dinner, I saw the menu, I conquered a meal. And I'm still recovering.
Milky Lane is, by and large, a social media success story. The Australian burger chain opened its first store in Bondi in 2016 and ever since has gained traction - and a devoted following - through Instagram posts of its over-the-top burgers, desserts and drinks, all ridiculously photogenic and dazzling to look at.
The Newcastle outpost opened barely a month ago at the top end of Darby Street. Apart from the show-stopping food, the eateries are known for their urban styled fit-outs.
Here, you'll find Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Rihanna and friends spray painted onto the walls, graffiti-esque, with neon lighting and New York subway tile splashbacks behind the bar. When we arrive on a packed Friday night, there is a DJ up on a podium pumping out a mix of new beats and, thankfully, old school tracks.
There's a waiting list and groups are getting turned away. But not to worry, it's a huge space with booths, bench seating, tables and bar seating, and the food doesn't take that long to prepare. Diner turnover is pretty quick.
The atmosphere is almost like a club, buzzing and busy and with the DJ telling me to lose myself in the music, it makes any conversation a little shouty. It definitely has an American vibe, you can sit at the bar and eat, and there is some serious action happening there, reminiscent of Cocktail (the movie). It's a young crowd and the menu, the food, and the vibe all lean towards fun and fanciful.
If you eat with your eyes, then prepare for a sensory overload of colour, textures, and calories. There is a lot going on with every burger, every drink, every dessert. It's indulgent birthday party eating, packed with so many ingredients. The food needs to be seen to be believed, hence its appeal on Instagram.
The regular menu offers nine burgers, which you can pimp to your heart's delight with extras like mac and cheese patties, brisket, crispy maple smoked bacon, onion rings and fried chicken. Or add extra sauce to make it a super-juicy affair. This is on top of what's already in the burger. And these are big burgers. I thought I'd go for the Milky Lane - partly as it's the namesake burger and partly because I didn't think I could unhinge my jaw enough to bite into any of the others.
The Milky Lane is classic with a few extras: grilled wagyu patty, double American cheese, butter lettuce, pickles, onions, tomato, Milky Lane sauce and ketchup. It's super saucy, super cheesy. The milky bun is very soft, but manages to hold its structure well. The meat is tasty and juicy and overall it's a sweet and salty experience.
Try a Kevin Bacon, a Limp Brisket (slow-cooked beef, slaw, sauerkraut) or the Chic-Kanye with fried chicken and maple bacon. It's a delicious burger - great chicken, very cheesy, lots of smokey bacon, a tickle on the tongue from the habanero pineapple relish and a hearty barbecue sauce. Supplied wet towelettes on every table is a smart move.
Unless you use cutlery, there's no way you won't get drips and juice running down your fingers, hands, even arms, when tackling a burger.
Sides are just as extravagant as the main event and if you make it through your burger and decide you want to finish yourself off, best try one of the Epic Desserts.
It's an easy place for groups, and the kids will be in heaven. Milky Lane is the modern milk bar-come diner, with a few extras.
- What: Milky Lane. 13-15 Darby Street, Newcastle.
- Contact: milkylane.co; 4926 5779
- Hours: Lunch and dinner, 7 days.
- Accessibility: Yes.
- Take note: Book online; gluten free available, fully licensed.
- Bottom line: Burgers $14-24
- Must try: A burger and a milkshake.