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Cowbell 808 Cafe

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by Justine Crowley (subscribe)
More of my written work, including my books: www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JustineCrowley Runs the following sites: www.sydneyfoodlovers.com.au www.selfavenue.com www.sydneyfun.com.auhttp://www.sydney.toopa.com
Published October 7th 2012
A much needed milk bar classic with superb coffee
This new, and delightful, cafe has staked its name in Surry Hills since it opened a few months ago. The name, Cowbell 808 is a homage to the TR 808 drum machine produced by Roland in the early 80's. Hence the artistic and musical theme throughout the retro decorated cafe. It's a milk bar classic. Sydney has Milk Bar by Cafe Ish, and now Cowbell 808. We're in for pleasant surprises in cafe society land, and this is pleasing, exciting and promising.

cowbell 808
The front counter area
cowbell 808
Glimpses towards the open kitchen


A word of warning: although this place is amazingly good all round, Cowbell 808 is not for the faint hearted. Why? My friends challenged me to have bacon sauce and ricotta pancakes here. The food is hard hitting, and you must (ideally) have the metabolism of an energetic eight year old kid in order to live up to it. The food is super filling, it might take two to tango.

On this occasion I needed a good coffee pit stop, and I'm glad I chose Cowbell 808. Their coffee is that good. Just one sugar did the trick, and my caffeine hit paid of. Cowbell 808's cafe latte (around $4 spent unconsciously, and money well spent) was that strong. Excellent crema, and well roasted. Gotta love the latte art.

cowbell 808
A heaven of latte love
cowbell 808
Fantastic latte in the sun


This is what Surry Hills needs; a cafe that is down to earth with laid back and unconventional staff who really give a care about great customer service. In noting down my table number as the super cool waiter took my order, he asked to himself "who are you?" See what I mean, unconventional. Think Elmo, lollies and a Rabbitohs (local NRL team) piece of art created by Sean, one of their staff members at the front counter.

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Interesting touches
cowbell 808
The view from my left


Whether you sit inside or out, it doesn't matter. Everything is out in the open, including the kitchen. The front counter is utterly stunning. A cone like yellow lego head can be found in a corner with a shelf full of vinyl records from the Fine Young Canibals and other artists around that era. The ambience is unusual, yet so what. Great food, great service, great times and of course great coffee. For the latter, even on a warm Friday. A few tables need to be cleared by the time I rocked up; a clear tell tale sign that this place is busy. No staff member took a break, not even for a second. Thank you Cowbell 808. Next time I will come to your retro mecca with an appetite of a raging bull.

cowbell 808
Old milk bar style ambience
cowbell 808
Lovely latte art
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Why? Great coffee and food in a milk bar and reto classic setting
When: 7am-3:30 7 Days Week
Phone: 02 9698 5044
Where: 616 Bourke Street, Surry Hills
Cost: Average
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