55 George St
Redfern, NSW 2016
With the relatively limited budget I have these days for going out to eat, it’s not often that I come across a restaurant that truly excites me. The cheaper places often tend to be rather same-same, whilst the more interesting places usually have prices that fall outside of what I can justify on a day-to-day basis. So with that said, it was doubly exciting when Bush opened – firstly because it just seemed like a really cool place, and secondly it was a cool place that I could afford to go to that very day if I wanted to! In the end, it took me about a month to actually make my way there; that may not sound very prompt, but it’s pretty good in my books.
Despite only being 100m or so off the main Redfern drag, Bush has a charmingly neighbourhood feel to it. The place is positively quaint, seating a couple dozen at a stretch, though if you walk through the kitchen (they’re very friendly so don’t be shy!), there’s a more spacious courtyard out back. Equally as tiny is the menu, with a grand total of 6 items if you count the desserts and sides, plus a special of wattleseed damper on the night I was there. The upshot of such a small menu is that the kitchen staff are usually happy to customise most things on the menu for you – just go ahead and ask!
The deal with Bush is that they want to bring a little bit of the Australian outback to the big city. What started as a food truck eventually became popular enough for them to set up permanent digs, and they took that opportunity to really solidify the theme. The surfaces are covered with a riot of native flowers and Aussie knick-knacks, educational posters the likes of which you’d find in a primary school library bedeck the walls, and perhaps most charming of all, the door is guarded by a pair of oversized wombat and kangaroo plushies.
The Curry Roo Party Pie ($6) was a no-brainer; I mean, how often do you come across that on a menu? This was a lovely little snack, miles removed from the frozen variety most of us are used to, though no diss on those either – they’re perfect in their own way!
The pastry on this pie was an absolute miracle. Buttery-yellow with a lid almost as tall as the pie itself, every bite was deliciously rich and flaky. The smooth, curry-infused filling isn’t half bad either, and although traditional tomato sauce is available, I highly recommend having it with the fresh and tangy house-made green chutney.
I love me a bit of variety, but sometimes it’s nice to not have to make any difficult decisions at dinner. The only main on the menu at Bush is the Cheeseburger ($12), with a vegetarian alternative available for the herbivores. Anyway, you know when you buy a McDonalds cheeseburger, and it never tastes as good as you hope and expect? Well this cheeseburger is everything fast food wishes it could be. A juicy patty with crispy edges, slice of melted American cheese, pickles, onion, and special sauce, all layered lovingly into a squishy milk bun. It’s a simple sandwich that contains absolutely no gimmicks or surprises, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t pretty much the perfect cheeseburger.
To go with the cheeseburger, I decided on a bowl of the unassumingly-named Greens ($8). Despite what you may expect, you’ll find no boring leaves here. Instead what you’ll get is a bowl of the most unique salad around. Fluffy chunks of potato contrast with crisp sugar snap peas, and the smoky aroma of some unbelievably good roasted cauliflower. Tossed in an herbaceous green dressing with plenty of spring onions, and topped with salty fried capers and smoked almonds, this is one heavy-hitting salad that’s good enough to eat as a main.
To cleanse our palate before the signature fairy bread and butter pudding (yes, fairy bread and butter pudding!!), there was the Grapefruit with Grandma’s Honey ($5). Just like the burger, this may have been simple, but it got everything right. Glistening like a bowl of gems, the fresh bitterness of grapefruit accentuated the delicate floral notes of the honey, which in turn mellowed out the sharpness of citrus. Make sure you eat this with a spoon, so as to get every last drop of the honey-infused nectar at the bottom.
Our meal had been great up until this point, but if I were to be entirely honest, the Fairy Bread and Butter Pudding ($10) was what I was really keen to get into. It’s baked fresh to order, so there’s a 20 minute wait, but trust me – it is so very worth it.
This is no avant-garde dessert inspired by the classic Australian snack; what you have is bread and butter pudding, made with literal slices of fairy bread. And just like everything else here, it’s done incredibly well, boasting a soft, sweet, and buttery middle, and a golden top encrusted with sprinkles. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and rainbow sprinkles, it’s every happy childhood memory condensed into a chipped bowl. I’m not usually one to gatekeep, but if this doesn’t bring you joy in its purest form, you’re a bad Australian and your soul is shrivelled and dead.
I am so very taken with Bush. It’s not often you come across a place that’s just so plain likeable, but the combination of the nostalgic menu, relaxed low-key environment, and the friendly and easy-going staff had completely won me over before the meal was even halfway done. The food may be simple to the point of almost feeling home-made, but this is the only place I’ve ever come across where it’s done with such quality and love. I’m not usually one to claim that a restaurant feels ‘just like eating at home’ – because usually it doesn’t – but Bush manages to pull off that illusion effortlessly. I liked it so much that I was this close to going back the very next night.
Rating: 14.5/20 – perfect the way it is.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.