Bowery to Williamsburg

I’m definitely guilty of sticking to my favourite inner ‘burbs when it comes to cafes and restaurants. As time wears on, however, and friends begin to disperse further across the city and beyond – there’s just no denying that the CBD is usually the most convenient place to meet and enjoy a meal together. So, I’ve recently begun to make a more determined effort in exploring the eateries of Melbourne’s CBD. I’ve found it takes a little planning ahead and often a lot of patience, but the CBD is coming up with some seriously excellent goods. Bowery to Williamsburg is one such discovery (a ‘discovery’ in a strictly personal fashion; this place has been buzzing along the gastronomical grapevine for months!)

Bowery to Williamsburg is hidden away on cobbled Oliver Lane just off Flinders Street, and is inspired by the great city of New York. I first visited for breakfast with foodie friend Hannah – and liked it so much I returned the very next day with another friend! The atmosphere is cool and casual, and the New York deli-style theme is fun and delicious without treading anywhere near novelty. Jewish influence abounds in menu items like Lox Latkes, Shakshouka Eggs, Challah French Toast and 5 & Dime Bagels. The range of sandwich creations available for lunch are also a great option for gluten-free diners – at a $1 supplement, my friend Suze (second visit!) was thrilled to report it was some of the best gluten-free bread she’d had.

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The hot beverages arrive in crumpled ceramic mugs and a little American chocolate treat to accompany  – Hannah and I each received a Hershey’s Kiss with our chai lattes. I’ll admit it was the Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate I ordered on my second visit, however, that stole my heart. It has just a perfect hint of peanut buttery flavour midst dark chocolate and comes with a mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup to boot. Yum!

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Bowery to Williamsburg offer a generous selection of sweet breakfasts – something Hannah and I were very excited to find! With rotating breakfast specials every weekend, we also had the extra sweet options of Challah French toast with rosewater, mint, fresh strawberries and housemade vanilla labne, and Malted milk waffle with bourbon glazed banana and vanilla ice-cream. We ended up going with the cereals on menu though – Hannah had the granola with rhubarb, raspberries and vanilla labne whilst I had the steel cut oatmeal with blueberries and pecan praline ($12 each). These dishes are served in gorgeous enamel saucepans with little jars of milk, which I couldn’t help but love. The blueberries and pecan praline gave my deliciously creamy oatmeal a simple, lovely taste and I was scraping the bottom of my bowl in minutes.

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My second visit called for lunch. Bowery to Williamsburg’s sandwiches are truly NYC – with options like the classic ‘Reuben’ (corned beef brisket with sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese), Pastrami, and Pickled herring (all sandwiches $12.50). Delicious-looking sides like mac and cheese, potato salad and pomegranate tabbouleh (all with served with pretzels and a pickle!) serve as tasty little add-ons for $4. I’m a sucker for anything with haloumi – so had the breaded eggplant with haloumi, roasted peppers and preserved lemon hummus, which is served on pita bread. The sandwiches are seriously a hit – we had a funny little shared moment with the group sitting next to us consisting mostly of repeated “Wow!”s and “Who knew sandwiches could be so good?!”

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So yes, Bowery to Williamsburg is a big win in my CBD exploration. With an excellent location near Flinders Street Station plus tasty, interesting and varied menu options and a bright, casual atmosphere – this place definitely ticks the box for future friendly catch-ups. Plus, I need to return and try some of the American-style cakes and sweets – there’s a piece of S’mores slice waiting with my name on it!

Bowery to Williamsburg | 16 Oliver Lane, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Open | Mon – Fri : 7.30am – 3:00pm, Sat – Sun : 8.30am – 3:00pm
No bookings. Cash only.

Bowery to Williamsburg on Urbanspoon

Crafting the Perfect ‘To-Eat List’

I love trying new places to eat, and for that Melbourne is certainly a marvelous place to be. However, I’m hardly out there conquering the latest and greatest openings of the city every week. As much as that sounds rather glamorous, my approach is a little more laid back. In all my trying-of-new-places I’ve inevitably found a few I’ve become quite fond of – and so a lot of my gastronomical adventures are simply returning to eat and spend time in those cafes and restaurants. And I’ll admit – it’s always so much easier to head to a favourite like Twenty & Six Espresso after waking up late and hungry on Sunday morning.

The new discoveries generally come from either a convenient whim, or a list Blu-Tacked to our fridge entitled ‘PLACES WE WANT TO EAT AT’*. I would highly recommend the use of such a list; it makes one feel superbly accomplished upon completion and is far less overwhelming than a vast and click-happy Urbanspoon wishlist! Our list is simple – just a few select eateries with no deadline or urgency. It’s a wonderful go-to when the timing and mood fit!

I love taking the time to sit down and write up a new List. Armed with a copy of The Age’s Good Food Under $3o (currently out of print) and the beautiful coffee-table tome Flavours of Urban Melbourne – the process is tactile and visual and filled with tasty promise. I also keep my ear to the buzzings of the blogosphere, Twitter, Broadsheet and Urbanspoon to catch any post-publication goodies.

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The first ever List saw Mat and I venture to Pope Joan on Nicholson Street, Brunswick East (a charming, airy space that’s lovely for lunch!), Easy Tiger on Smith Street, Collingwood (splurged on the banquet and did not regret it) and Beatrix on Queensberry St, North Melbourne (I can’t believe it took me so long to discover the Queen of North-side sweet treats!). It was a hugely successful list and each eatery garnered a return visit or two. In the case of Beatrix, we’re talking a return visit or twelve.

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We now have a fresh new List taking pride of place on the fridge. Small Victories has already been tackled – we had a yummy breakfast there, and would definitely return if just to spend more time in the leafy sunshine on cute, quiet little Rathdowne in Carlton North.

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Next up: Cutler & Co., Cobb Lane and Common Galaxia. That almost sounds a bit poetic, doesn’t it? Here’s to putting poetry in motion!

*Apologies, grammar geeks! The name just stuck!

The Brûlée Cart and Coburg Night Market

Despite being a regular traveller on the number nineteen tram, to memory I’ve only ever made it beyond Brunswick once before. The second time, as it goes, would happen just this past Friday evening. This would also be the evening on which the holy Food Truck Gods (closely related to the Brunch Gods) would look down upon me, and deem to send a torched-up treat my way. It was divine intervention. There’s really no other explanation.

I was on a sudden, determined mission to get an outdoor dining setting before summer hit. After work I beelined across the city toward Bunnings Coburg, resolute that by December 1st (a mere two days away) I’d be sitting comfortably on the outdoor terrace sipping a cool glass of wine. Or a cup of tea. Or whichever beverage happened to take my fancy at that particular moment. As I edged ever closer, browsing my Twitter feed to fill in time – it happened:


https://twitter.com/thebruleecart/status/406293527753416704

The Brûlée Cart was in Coburg. I was in Coburg. The stars had aligned and as soon as I’d signed off for the delivery of my three-piece timber bench and table set, I was rattling back down the number nineteen line on another mission.

Initially funded through a Pozible campaign earlier this year, The Brûlée Cart is helmed by brothers Bart and Jack White. The food truck industry is certainly thriving in Melbourne at the moment, and there is some seriously delicious, gourmet food on offer – but I have to say that a crème brûlée truck is one after my own heart. I’d previously tracked the Cart down once at Trailer Park (Salted Caramel), and another time in the streets of Brunswick (Dark Chocolate and Peppermint). It seemed Friday night would see me a third time lucky.

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It was a short journey before jumping off the tram and heading to Bridges Reserve, nearest to the corner of Sydney Road and Bell Street. The Coburg Night Market was alive and busy with people, but not so big that it didn’t feel like an genuine, local market. I noticed especially that there were a lot of kids and families about, and market-goers spread out across table, chair and lawn to eat and drink and listen to live music. There were plenty of tasty-looking places to eat, including stalls from Phat Brats, Wingman Chicken Wings, Meatball Company, Mr. Calamaro, Running Sangria, Trailer Made and Bianco Latte Gelato. It was a wonderful atmosphere and I’d definitely recommend swinging by one warm Friday night before it finishes up on the 20th December.

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It was, however, a familiar wash of blue that beckoned me across the market – and before I knew it I was cracking the top of my very own Lavender & Honey crème brûlée. Also on offer that night was French Vanilla & Raspberry and Salted Caramel. I’ll maintain that Salted Caramel is my all-out favourite, but the Lavender & Honey was delicate and delightful in flavour. The brûlées are $8 each, and the perfect size to sate a sweet craving (although I think I could definitely eat at least three of the Salted Caramel one after another!).

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It’s true – I am over the moon with my new outdoor dining setting (on this balmy December 1st evening, I am indeed sitting comfortably on the outdoor terrace sipping on what turned out to be a glass of room-temperature water.). But I had another calling that night, and I am proud to claim that I rose to meet the almighty challenge. Most importantly – I must bestow upon you the urgency to claim such victory for yourself! Whether on a definitive mission or simply on your travels, The Brûlée Cart is so, so worth your visit.

The Brûlée Cart | Follow on Twitter or Facebook for locations
The Brûlée Cart on Urbanspoon

Coburg Night Market | Bridges Reserve, Coburg
http://coburgnightmarket.com/
Open | 15th November – 20th December 2013, Fri : 5.30pm – 10.00pm

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