Here’s What We Learnt From Our Trip to McDonald’s New Hipster Café

Maccy D’s has opened a healthy hipster version in Sydney. So We went


by Jo Gannon |
Published on

In the western Sydney suburb of Camperdown, sits a new shiny café called The Corner. It's a white bungalow building complete with brickwork and wide glass opening doors. Even the sign is written in a classic ‘hipster font’. But up on that very sign, in very, very, small type it says ‘McCafe’. And only then do you realise that this new cafe is in fact a new type of McDonald’s.


You may associate the Golden Arches with killer hangover cures, pissed 3Am burgers and 90-second cheeseburger pitstops, but The Corner is apparently a new sneaky way of Ronald M testing out his new, healthier, dishes on Sydney’s cool crew, with the most popular dishes set to become additions to our McDonald’s menus. A spokesperson from The Corner told the Huffington Post, that it’s a ‘learning lab’. And, er, the people of Sydney are kale-munching hamsters.


As a Brit having moved to Oz at the end of October last year, I can safely say McDonald’s holds a special place in my heart. The memories: Happy Meals as a kid (or more recently when really poor), sit-down meals pissed with mates to end a night, or drive thrus in my dressing gown the next day. And all those times when you spy those golden arches on the motorway, and it’s like there really is a God.

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But Sydney is not London: this place is renowned for its cool café culture, with a booming market for healthy coffee shops and edgy brunch spots, where you can catch up with friends while guzzling avocado. The girls here are extremely health savvy, so maybe it’s no surprise that Maccy D’s – or ‘Macca’s’ as they say here – are looking to put less fatty, salty and sugary food on their menus. And since I moved over here at the end of last year, I’ve started getting into the swing of the health-conscious Sydney lifestyle. Perhaps this means my McDonald’s days are numbered, too. But can The Corner fill that Ronald McDonald-shaped hole in my heart?


I decided to head over and check it out for myself. Walking in, I was welcomed by a very friendly member of staff, dressed in a buttoned up denim shirt – so far, so hip – and a pinafore style apron. Definitely a step up from the usual McDonald’s cap and hair net. Tbh, I wasn’t hugely impressed by the décor. Apart from the counters, which were quite fun and colourful, everything else was quite bog standard, with the chairs and tables matching both the walls and the ceiling. Not hugely different from a regular Maccy’s, though very clean. If they wanted to be really hipster, then the the walls would be adorned with weird art, the furniture mismatched, hipster indoor plants and pretentious books would be randomly dotted around. Instead, it was more Golden Arches Lite.

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Another let down was the complete lack of hipsters in situ. For starters, there was only ONE MAN with any sort of facial hair. I don’t know if I went at the wrong time, but it was very busy and the hungry crowd was largely middle aged and extremely un-hipster – I think a lot of them were staff from the Royal Prince Albert Hospital just next door. I think they are definitely aiming this café at a different clientele to that of McDonald’s, by catering for more sophisticated standards and tastes, yet still at fairly low prices.

I had a gander at the stand with packaged sandwiches and soft drinks – amongst which I spied kale and spirinula in the smoothie ingredients. Then meandered over to the coffee counter and chose a small iced coffee for $4 (that’s £2.10) which is pretty cheap for Sydney and it tasted great. At the coffee counter there was a selection of sweet things and pastries, and inviting-looking toasties, which they heat up and bring to you on a wooden board. Edgy.


They’re very into these stepped ‘build your own’ things – like the dessert option which is a waffle or pudding, with ice cream, and then your favourite toppings. But, alas, not a McFlurry machine in sight.

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I then headed over to the hot food counter, where you pay $8 - $10 (about £4.20 / £5.50) for either a burger or a salad box, to have in or take away. I opted for ‘between bread’, aka a burger. Then you choose either slaw or one of the salads – sweet potato and rice, giant cous cous, toms and mozzy and any extras, then add your meat (I went for chipotle pulled pork), and finally there’s a choice of any extra sauces. To my relief, there were no signs of calorie content on any of the menus or packaging, but I can only assume it’s far less than a Big Mac. Right? RIGHT?

And – bonus – they serve your food on a nice metal plate, which is serious step up from the usual plastic tray. That said, my heart really sank when I saw the cutlery. Wooden! The place is so hipster it’s annoying – about 30 seconds into my attempts to cut the bun my fork snapped. Good thing I had a lot of napkins.


Overall I was impressed with the quality of the food, the portion size, and the prices. While what I had wasn’t exactly healthy, I felt a whole lot better than I would after inhaling my usual McChicken Sandwich, with fries… oh and my normal regular strawberry milkshake. There was a wide choice on offer, so you could make the meal healthier if you want. Basically, I’d go back if I happened to be walking past and fancied lunch.

I reckon The Corner will do well, and will be the first of many, but I don’t think there’s any chance of McDonald’s totally transforming worldwide any time soon. Because what do you think of when you see those Golden Arches? If you’re anything like me, it’s a massive Big Mac and salty fries. And as I’ll be quick to tell you next time I have a hangover, I don’t want that to change any time soon.

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Follow Jo on Twitter: @TheRealJoGannon

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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