Cowbell 808 Sydney is an eclectic, 1980s urban/pop culture inspired cafe that serves all day breakfast and lunch in Surry Hills. The name of the cafe comes from the Roland TR-808, one of the most iconic drum machines of all time that was very popular in the music world during the 1980s.
You’ll see what’s attached to this seemingly obtrusive blue pole further down the review.
As 1980s and 1990s classic hits play on vinyl, you lean on your retro laminex table and sit on your vinyl chair, the menu is brought out. Top quality ingredients and classic menu items, with a few twists here and there is the name of the game.
Almost everything is made in house, including the smoked bacon, cured fish, bread, jams and ice-cream just to name a few.
Braised Lamb Toastie ($12.00)
My wife ordered the toastie and we both agreed that this was a perfect example of something simple done well. The braised lamb was tender and full of flavour, the provolone cheese was gooey and present in just the right amount. The sourdough was soft and springy and the outside was buttered and crispy with a sprinkling of rosemary. The result was delicious.
Smashed Avocado, Scrambled Eggs & Bacon on Sourdough ($14 for bacon or avocado, $17 for both)
The eggs were cooked perfectly, and there was a very decent amount of house smoked bacon which was delicious. I really enjoyed this classic breakfast option and was very satisfied by both the quality of the ingredients and the serving size.
Flat White + Cappuccino ($3.00 each)
My wife ordered a cappuccino and I ordered a flat white. The blend that was used was really tasty and we both enjoyed our coffees. If you’ve read through my Chur Burger review you’ll recall me mentioning that the taco photos went missing – well my coffee photos from Cowbell 808 went missing too! I’m certain that I must have a faulty SD card. Frustrating!
Not only was the food at Cowbell 808 excellent, but the service was too. There was no pretension and the staff seemed genuinely happy to be there. They were friendly, chatty and efficient. There was a charming elderly man who was walking around chatting to customers and helping out. We later found out was the father of co-owner Sean Demicoli. Despite being very “cool”, Cowbell 808 still very much feels like a good old fashioned family business.
When the elderly man brought out some cutlery so that I could finish off my wife’s sandwich (as he cleaned up my finished meal he told her “that’s ok, that’s what he [me] is here for”), it felt like I was at my grandmother’s house where I always have to make sure I finish everything on my plate. Indeed, when the senior Mr. Demicoli came back to see that all of the food had been finished, he looked very chuffed and told me that I was a good boy for not wasting any food. “We wouldn’t do it at home, so why should we do it here?” he said. If you have grandparents from Macedonia, Greece, Italy etc this will sound very familiar.
My wife and I both agreed that Cowbell 808 was one of the best places we ate at while we were in Sydney. With great food, good old fashioned service and a brilliant atmosphere, it’s the kind of local cafe that everyone wishes they had around the corner. There was so much on the menu that looked great and the next time I’m in Sydney I’ll be returning to Cowbell 808 for sure.
616 Bourke Street
New South Wales 2010
Telephone: (02) 9698 5044