Bush review: Where a country practice meets city life

BUSH ★★★★½

55 George Street, Redfern, bush.sydney

Ordering one of Bush's cheeseburgers, currently a is-this-the-best-burger-in-Sydney social media sensation, is like asking a mate to cook their signature dish at a house party. Funky tunes are playing, staff are as laidback and sociable as friends in a share house and decor features twisty wood branches, stuffed marsupials, handmade murals from magazine cut-outs and books about cooking and Australian native plants. Homey, fun and unpretentious.

Bush cafe in Redfern is homey, fun and unpretentious. Credit:Louise Kennerley

On this humid evening in Redfern, a free table is snared by sheer fluke. Bush is mobbed at dinnertime, full of loud, happy people rubbing elbows at knot-wooded tables and wiping cheeseburger sauce off their chins before spooning in mouthfuls of fairy bread and butter pudding.

Owner and head chef Grant Lawn, visible in the kitchen in a Eucalyptus leaf-green T-shirt, is cooking sizzling cheese-covered burger patties with lanky gusto. Everyone is relaxed and talking and eating, the combo Lawn aimed for when he quietly opened the cafe in July with the credo, "Bush is about bringing life, green, truth and happiness to people."

Inspired by the Australian bush, the menu features six daily options; curry roo pie, cheeseburger, greens and chips for mains. A mushroom burger is available as a vegetarian option. There are two desserts; grapefruit 'n grandma's honey and fairy bread and butter pudding. In recent weeks the specials board has offered wattleseed damper and dahl, cold Korean pumpkin soup with glass noodles, an ice-cream biscuit sandwich and, star offering, Nan's cheesecake. Bush is BYO but ask for a smoothie, flavoured with "whatever's popping''. Today it's a creamy persimmon batch sweetened with honey.

Bush’s cheeseburger, with chips and a bowl of greens, has turned into a social media sensation. Credit:Louise Kennerley

The cheeseburger is a thing of joy. A soft milk bun holding a succulent beef patty, American cheese, onions, pickles and a housemade creamy sauce that runs down your fingers if you're lucky. Also marvellous is the roo pie with excellent curry-infused filling inside buttery, flaky pastry.
Today's greens is top-notch potato, okra and kale salad with herbaceous green sauce and crinkle-cut chips that are crunchy beauties. The rich, wobbly and custard-soaked pudding is sweet and stained with neon-like strands of melting hundreds and thousands. It tastes like happiness. Grapefruit segments drizzled with Lawn's grandma's honey burst with sweet and citrus flavours.

Lawn, who uses Marrickville meat wholesaler Feather and Bone, began perfecting his cheeseburger in 2015 when he started making and giving them to homeless people in Woolloomooloo. Pop-ups at Balmain Markets, The Australian Meat Emporium and Young Henry's honed it further.

In his first permanent space, there's a friends and family vibe, highlighted by jars of grandma Betty's 100 per cent raw honey for sale and the wood slab tables and tree stump stools her grandson and chums sawed and sanded. A fern-edged, undercover outdoor space out back has wall art by diners and local artists, and the chirpily attentive staff whisk the enamelled-tin plates of food about with chatty enthusiasm.

The fairy bread ‘n butter pudding tastes like happiness. Credit:Louise Kennerley

On a wordless awning sign outside Lawn's red hatted-head is visible within a sea of bushland grasses, embodying the lush natural feel of one of the best community-focused cafes in town.
It's the sort of place anyone can drop into to feel loved, eat well and leave believing there are lovely people doing good things we can all share in.


Main attractions: Genuinely friendly staff, an unpretentious vibe and lovingly created food inspired by the Australian bush and communal eating.

Must-try dish: The lip-smackingly juicy, soft-bunned cheeseburger twinned with greens featuring pan-fried okra, kale, apple pieces, cauliflower and sugar snap peas in tangy herb sauces.

Insta-worthy dish: Fairy bread and butter pudding, fat, custard-rich and beautifully wobbly with splotchy day-glo stains from melting hundreds and thousands.

Drinks: Plunger coffee, $4.20; black or green tea, $5; sparkling water, $4/$7; smoothies $9; milkshake (chocolate, vanilla, malt), $7; canned soft drinks, $3

Prices: $6-$15

Hours: Tue-Sat, noon-10pm


Breadfern,  308 Chalmers Street, Redfern: A paradise for organic, ethics-focused and gluten-free devotees, Breadfern bakes artisan loaves, cakes, pies and pastries daily in a dedicated bakery space edged by wooden display boxes. Get in early for iced chocolate croissants and lunchtime chicken and mushroom béchamel pies before snaring a yellow peach, apricot, almond and cranberry tart.

Henry Lee's, 16 Eveleigh Street (entry via Hart Street), Redfern: Enter the spacious, sun-dappled, exposed brick-lined inner courtyard for artistic and seasonal dishes, including toasted butter croissants filled with crab claw meat and house-made fennel meatballs. Named after Nick Cave and P.J. Harvey's heart-twanging collaboration, this four-year-old cafe also offers deconstructed infused G&Ts in a new bar space.

Southside Charmers, 306 Chalmers Street, Redfern: Redfern's ever-growing reputation as a foodie destination includes this pink-hued, palm-fronded Hawaiian-vibed diner overseen by Anne Cooper and George Woodyard, of nearby bar Bart Jr. Grab some buttermilk chicken, beef quesadillasas or summer dahl, topped by a tastebud-tasering tiki-glassed cocktail.

Giant Dwarf, 199 Cleveland Street, Redfern: Giant Dwarf's much-loved 300-seat theatre, home to live comedy, music, storytelling, witty panel confabs and, sometimes, pole dancing, is on a fundraising chase. Fans can donate money to help it stay open in 2020 and also tickle a rib at Zealot, comic and ABC journalist Ange Lavoipierre's "demented excavation" of leaving God behind and embracing her inner heathen (January 30 and February 1).

Source: Read Full Article