16 Oliver Lane, Melbourne (map)
Open 7:30am-3:30pm Monday-Friday, cash and walk-ins only
It's been a great week for the sandwich lovers of Melbourne's Paris end. Last Tuesday EARL Canteen opened its long-awaited second store in the Collins Place food court (directly under Pei Modern). I can't tell you how glad I am that they're now located a mere block away from my office building.
And then on Monday a new cafe opened in Oliver Lane, the cobblestoned laneway off Flinders Lane that also houses Coda. Brought to you by Will and Di (the couple who brought you The Hardware Societe), the cafe is called Bowery to Williamsburg and as the subway-inspired name suggests, it's going to put Melbourne in a New York state of mind.
Will and Di have made three trips to NYC over the last couple of years, planning the Bowery to Williamsburg concept. The care they've taken in realising their vision is evident in the fitout, which is elegantly understated yet cosy even on a three degree Melbourne morning.
BAGELS! In keeping with the New York deli theme, there are several varieties of bagel on offer - both savoury and sweet - all made by 5 and Dime. Start your day with a sour cherry bagel with a schmear of lemon curd, or perhaps a beetroot and rye bagel with a cream cheese schmear. There are cooked breakfasts too, like poached eggs with maple baked beans and a bacon slab.
Lunchwise, it's one of those sandwich menus you'll agonise over for minutes because they all sound so damn good. Will it be the Reuben, the pastrami on rye? The lox bagel with beetroot horseradish, limed onion, watercress and dill cream cheese schmear? The schmaltz chicken on walnut bread with apple celeriac slaw and prune relish??
For a set price of $16.50 you get a sandwich plus a side plus pretzels and a pickle (or pay $12.50 just for the sandwich, gluten free bread available for $1 extra). In the end I picked a sandwich almost at random, winding up with the superb hot smoked salmon on rye with heirloom tomato, fried capers, radish and a caviar cream cheese schmear, with a zingy little side salad of zucchini, peas and Persian feta.
Last but most definitely not least are the sweets, all of which are baked on the premises. It's a veritable AMERICANA CORNUCOPIA, featuring New York cheesecake, key lime pie, caramelised pumpkin pie, vanilla cherry pie, maple pecan pie, s'mores bars and choc-blueberry brownies. I had a little taste of the maple pecan pie and it was heaven.
The coffee is Padre, but you might be tempted by a peanut butter hot chocolate (served with a Reese's PB cup). At this early stage they're only open Monday to Friday, but fingers crossed that weekends will follow soon. Bowery to Williamsburg is a VERY welcome addition to the CBD.