You had me at ‘Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate’. HELLO!
Bowery to Williamburg is the newest venture from the folks behind Hardware Societe. The reputation of that excellent cafe has meant that only after a few days of opening already a steady stream of people have found their way to the slice of New York City that has landed in the CBD.
Outside is very Melbourne – cobblestone laneway location, outdoors communal tables even in the freezing winds of winter, an underground space – but pass the brass shoe doorstep and step into the hum of a cafe serving up bagels, s’mores and pumpkin pie.
The cuisine is American/Jewish inspired. So while you can have a Padre coffee or an English breakfast tea (served with a Hershey Kiss, cute!), for drinks I suggest you make a beeline for the Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate served in a faux crumpled plastic cup ($5). Such genius to mix a sweet drink with more richness – particularly if you dunk your Reece’s Peanut Butter cup to turn into goo inside your cup.
For breakfast you’ll find freshly baked 5 & Dime bagels with your choice of cream cheese schmears (flavours change regularly), blinzes, lox on latkes, fried challah and maple baked beans. I decided on the smoked meat with sweet potato hash, peppers and fried eggs ($17) because I haven’t eaten smoked meat since my days as a uni student in Montreal (the other famous home of smoked meat other than NYC).
What appeared was a wooden diner tray holding a head-turning enamel plate of smoked meat, a chunky and slightly spicy sweet potato/corn/potato/red pepper mixture and two fennel seed sprinkled eggs thankfully not fried to rubber. It came with two hefty slices of Noisette bread (including their excellent walnut bread) with which to mop up the pan juices. It was a fragrant, filling and wholly satisfying dish, my only quibble being that I prefer my meat more thinly sliced as otherwise it can get a little chewy. Otherwise I declare that smoked meat could almost, almost, be Better Than Bacon.
I noticed that the other cooked breakfasts were equally generous in size – or shall we say, they were American sized? Talk about value for money – this was a morning dish that kept me going till dinner time.
Despite my fullness I was determined to try one of the house-made cakes and tarts from the eye-catching roll call of sweets.
With the key lime pie ($6) your first order of business should be to spoon up the pillowy meringue with a tissue-thin crust. Then dig your spoon into the beautifully set curd and hand-hewn sweet biscuit crust. Next time I’m going to have the New York Cheesecake – it would only be appropriate given the name of the cafe.
Lunch starts at around 11:45am and is all about sandwiches (all $12.50) with classic New York favourites like corned beef, pastrami and lox featuring in creative combinations. I particularly like the sound of pork and almond meatballs with harissa tomato sugo and mozzarella. You can also have your sandwich with a choice of side (salad or mac ‘n’ cheese) plus some pretzels and a fat, kosher (dill) pickle for $16.50.
Can’t afford that plane fare to New York? Then head up Oliver Lane and hum some Sinatra as you enjoy Bowery to Williamsburg.
Bowery to Williamsburg, 16 Oliver Lane, Melbourne +61 3 9077 0162
Monday – Friday 730am-330pm
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