First came the American diners and BBQ restaurants now there’s Bowery to Williamsburg – a New York style sandwich bar. Walk down the stairs to the cafe and you could be in an episode of Seinfeld with Reuben sandwiches and Lox bagels on the menu and subway tiles on the walls.
Melbourne’s newest cafe opened on Monday and comes with an impressive pedigree. It’s the second venture from the team behind eternally popular Hardware Societé. Down Oliver lane, just off Flinders street, it’s a subterranean space with one large communal table and some outdoor seating along the laneway. Old street signs pointing to Fifth avenue, bagels on the counter and kosher salt on the tables all signal this cafe’s New York state of mind.
The deal is that you can order a sandwich for $12.50 or a sandwich plus side, pretzels and a pickle for $16.50. As soon as I spied mac n’cheese on the specials list I knew I had to go for the meal deal. My sandwich was huge and filled with a warm grilled field mushroom, tabouli studded with pomegranate and a slick of minted yoghurt. The bread was lightly toasted and the sandwich came with half a gherkin, a handful of pretzels and a jar of moreish mac n’cheeese topped with toasted breadcrumbs. The highlight really was the mac n’ cheese and I would have been happy to eat just a bowlful of that.
Bowery to Williamsburg also does a cracking line in American style treats as well with s’mores and New York cheesecake all on display behind the counter.
Thankfully the cafe hasn’t adopted the bottomless cups of bitter black coffee beloved of New York cafes. Instead there’s decent Padre coffee and delicious hot chocolates which come complete with a Hershey’s Kiss.
Bowery to Williamsburg has done more than just jump on the American bandwagon in Melbourne. It’s gone all in while still creating a really interesting menu which offers a genuine alternative to your standard cafe fare. Prices are steep but hey, it’s still cheaper than flying to New York. Go!
Details: Bowery to Williamsburg, 16 Oliver Lane , Melbourne 3000 (Ph 03 9077 0162) Open Mon-Fri 7.30am -3.30pm. Cash only and no bookings taken.