Milk bars are sadly becoming a thing of the past. But there's a silver lining, with many of these being given a fresh start through their conversions into new and local favourite cafes. One such hidden gem is Darling Street Espresso, tucked away in Moonee Ponds.

The menu is the work of Head Chef Robin Neaves, who blends culinary ingenuity with fresh and locally sourced produce. The spread we were presented was colourful, vibrant and inviting. My pick of the miso cured salmon featured several components, making it difficult to direct my fork at times. But on the plus side, everything tasted great and the various combinations melded together beautifully. The fragrant and sweet ponzu dressing in particular really worked its magic to tie together all the flavours on the plate. Other favourites included the fried chicken burger, quite a sizeable burger topped with a panko crumbed mac and cheese croquette, and on the sweeter and more inventive side, a donut waffle. 

Another win for a west-sider like myself, Darling Street Espresso is only a stone's throw from home. A nod to its past, the exterior retains a milk bar-esque appearance while the inside has quite the homey feel. Combined with some excellent Industry Beans coffee, a tasty and creative menu that is updated seasonally (and will have me coming back for more), it's not hard to see why the locals love Darling Street Espresso. Them lucky folks! 

Iced coffee // orange juice // milkshake. 

Miso cured salmon with okonomiyaki pancake, tempura poached egg, ponzu dressing, avocado and bonito. 

Other orders: 

  • Brekky board with avo smash, poached egg, seven grain toast, lamb rib, granola and acai yoghurt.
  • Cinnamon doughnut waffle - with raspberry jam, whipped matcha cream cheese, peach caramel and maple meringue. 
  • Fried chicken burger - with brioche bun, sriracha fried chicken, apple, fennel and cucumber slaw, and a panko crumbed mac n cheese croquette. Croquette can also be ordered as a side dish. 
  • Raspberry ice cream sandwich - with fudge choc biscuits, raspberry, mint, praline and mascarpone. 
Darling Street Espresso Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Darling Street Espresso

146 Athol St,

Moonee Ponds, Victoria, 3039.

(03) 9326 2212

Disclosure: I dined at the cafe as a guest of Darling Street Espresso. All opinions expressed in this post are based entirely on my experience and observations made during the time of my visit. 

EatMaggie Lam