New York City has a couple of centuries on us, though arguably, we share many similarities with the Big Apple: our seasons, our literary and arts scenes, our love for both theatre and sport and our foodie culture. There’s a lot of NYC to be found in our fair city and we’ve found the pick of the bunch.
5 & Dime Bagel
Melbourne’s bagel scene is growing and New Jerseyan, Zev Forman, brought his chutzpah down under to make sure it’s done the right way. A bagel is a bagel is a bagel, right? Not so! A true bagel is malty-sweet and slightly chewy, with a crust that has a little give before it breaks–and it’s not machine-rolled and steamed.
5 & Dime’s bagels are handmade the traditional way: boiled and baked, but that’s not Zev’s only shtick. He’s old-fashioned about pastrami and says “Australian pastrami is usually lean cut, whereas in the States, they use brisket, which is what we’re doing.”
This joint smokes their fish and meat in-house (purchased from a local, organic butcher), their produce is sourced from the farmer’s markets and they use real cultured cream cheese.
You’re not out in the cold as a vegan, though. Shmeer that bagel with vegan cream cheese and check back for Zev’s next menu addition: coconut-based butter from Halfpint Vegan Dairy.
Zev calls Australia home, but don’t talk to him about Vegemite, “I bought the first Vegemite tub as a joke and people kept ordering it!” (Good news for those of us who grew up on the stuff!)
Must try: The most popular item on the menu–the everything bagel (vegan friendly), washed down with batch-brewed filter coffee. Don’t worry, Zev meets Melbourne standards.
Alumbra has freshened up their look and their sleek, slightly distressed design, adds even more twinkle twinkle to Docklands. The New York garage interior and their menu (by Top Hat chef, Daniel Wilson) take direction from the streets of NYC and their cocktail list has also had a makeover.
We were fortunate to attend their NYC-themed launch party and sample a star of the new drinks menu, the 5 Points Almack’s. It’s Bar Manager, Panos’, nod to one of the first African American-owned bars in New York: Almack’s Dance Hall. Here, dance competitions between newly liberated African Americans and Irish immigrants inspired a blend of styles and tap dance was born out of the shuffle and the Irish jig. With his 5 Points Almack’s cocktail, Panos pays tribute to the two groups partying together during such a chaotic time in New York’s history.
This bold, but chilled bar and nightclub is the perfect spot in any season to sit by the water and toast to both the most liveable city in the world and the city that never sleeps.
Must try: 5 Points Almack’s–Jameson Irish Whisky, Joseph Cartron Apricot Brandy and orange (inspired by Orange Street at the 5 Points–now, Baxter Street), topped up with Chandon Rosé and garnished with elderflowers.
West Village NYC
This New York-style bar runs on a Chicago-inspired menu. Chef Bradley hails from the windy city and his culinary method is reminiscent of the classic American diner with the grill directly behind the counter (where the cook yells, ‘burger’s UP!’). Chef updates West Village NYC’s menu each season with a new spread of American-inspired bar food, packed with a bit of heat. He gave us a teaser of their summer menu and all we can say is corn chips are involved.
This Melbourne sports bar doesn’t just cater to the AFL crowd. They stream League, Union, NFL, ice hockey–you name it–and the place goes off for Superbowl. Relax over RnB after work and stick around for house as the evening progresses. Drop in for Wednesday night trivia and check out up-and-coming comedic talent on Thursdays. They’re open Wednesday to Sunday, so forget your troubles over a chili dog and a Bud.
Must try: The South Side Burger (1/2 pound, double-patty cheeseburger with grilled onion, mustard and pickles). Heard of White Castle? This is pretty close and you can get it down at South Wharf.
Notable NYC mentions
- 5 Points Deli: You’re forgiven for believing you just walked onto the set of a movie. Stick around–the food is very real and their sandwiches are brimming with American portions of meat. If you can’t make it in before 4.30pm, venture upstairs to Longhorn Saloon for steak, oysters and rock ‘n’ roll.
- New York Minute: Greasy, cheesy, juicy–all the ingredients of a well-deserved calorie fest. With burgers named ‘New York’, ‘Manhattan’ and ‘Philly Cheese Steak’, you know you’re in trouble (the good kind) at this shiny NYC-style diner.
- Bowery to Williamsburg: Peanut butter hot chocolate, chili cheese dog, cornbread waffles, caramelised pumpkin pie and New York’s finest Reuben in the heart of Melbourne. Indulge your ravenous American cravings at this New York-style deli.
- Five Points: For a traditionally made bagel with a twist, tuck into the Thai Chicken – chicken breast, hoisin, garlic, ginger, mint, coriander, spring onions and crushed peanuts.
- New York Burger on Collins: A regular spot for many city workers, this fast-food joint pumps out the burgers at lunchtime in a busy food court.