Cindy and I needed a decent pit-stop amidst a busy Sunday at the Melbourne Writers Festival, and were excited to discover that Bowery to Williamsburg has expanded their hours to include weekends. We've been reading the hype since they opened a few years ago (check out the ~80 blog posts below), but haven't had a chance to sample the NYC-inspired menu before. It's a small cafe tucked down a flight of stairs on Oliver Lane, with a big communal table, a handful of tiny solo/duo tables and some big outdoor spots. We sheltered indoors from the cold as soon as they could squeeze us in.
The brunch menu is pretty meaty - vegos can choose from a shakshuka, a haloumi and eggs dish, waffles, a sandwich or sweets. I was looking forward to checking out some sort of exciting sandwich option, but I've been a bit spoiled by the likes of Smith & Deli and True North - there's no vego rueben on offer here. Instead, I went for the falafel wrap ($15), adding a side of mac 'n' cheese, pretzels and a pickle for an extra $5.
The mac 'n' cheese was a delight, and the highlight of the meal - a bit of crispiness on top and a creamy, gooey, cheesy interior. The falafel wrap was okay - the pickled turnip and yoghurty condiments keeping things interesting, but the falafel themselves were a bit on the dry side and not hugely memorable. When you can get incredibly high quality falafel rolls at places like Mankoushe and Half Moon for less than a tenner, then it's hard to justify forking over $15 for this.
Cindy focussed her attention on the sweets cabinet, picking out a blueberry vanilla pie ($6) to pair with her jaffa shake ($7).
The shake was a success - it tasted almost exactly like someone had blended up a bag of jaffas and some milk, which is basically what you want from a jaffa milkshake. The pie was less exciting - served with a big puff of gross aerated cream and loaded up with too much sugar, overpowering any fruitiness from the berries. Disappointing.
Our experience of Bowery to Williamsburg left us both pretty underwhelmed - watching people get massive rueben sandwiches and ridiculous chicken and waffle dishes it was easy to see why it has been such a successful venture. But for vegos, the options are pretty limited (vegans will really struggle) - you're much better off heading over to Fitzroy for your New York-style deli experience. On the upside, the coffee is excellent and the staff were friendly and helpful, but the food just didn't excite us enough to inspire a return visit any time soon.
Bowery to Williamsburg is ridiculously popular with bloggers. A Food Story, Thoughts of a Moni, stem of sky, bonjourchickie, Mon's Adventure, A Chronicle of Gastronomy, MyFoodBelly, Brunch Addict, Laws of the Kitchen, The Lifestyle Monolog, Sydney Coffee Nerd, off the spork, Lily & Ouk Eat Food, Gourmet Chick, MoMo & Coco, Eat.Live.Escape, Addicted to the Sweet Life, Poppet's Window, grazing panda, Little Wanderings, Petit Miamx, Eat And Be Merry, For Tomorrow We Die(t) (twice), Yellow Eggs, A Rumbly Tummy, fresh bread, Foodie About Town, Feast Wisely, Food. Travel. Superlatives, Peach Water, melbourne gastronome, This (Hungry) Little Piggy, The Mob Review, The Glutton's Diet, Mostly Food Adventures, Mango Macarons, BLK's Food Blog, The Sinful Organic Cook, Spoonfuls of Wanderlust, Tales of an Amateur Cook, Kat Romig, WHOISNINABELLE, To Stay or To Go?, Cartolina Gourmet, Adventures of a Melbourne Girl, New International Students, Hungry Kittens, Eve Lovelle, The Yay or Nay Blog, Pigging Out Around the World, Doughnut forget me!, The Epicurean of Southbank, The Breakfast Experiment, A Food Fable, The Hangry Bitch, The Global Rambler, The World Loves Melbourne, Good Food, Good Karma, VenueMob, The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar, Verdict lobster, chasing a plate (twice), Sarah Cooks, MEL: HOT OR NOT, Golden Delicious Smile, forksake, Eat. Play. Shop, Gastronomical Ramblings, Sweet and Sour Fork, DE-BRIEFME, Food, Fitness and Foucault (twice), Snow Crab Nebula, Ming Tian, A Chronicle of Gastronomy, Hungry Cookie and kit & kafoodle all loved it, while Let's Get Fat Together, Nouveau Potato, delightfully tasty, The Escort and the Thief, Painting Rachel Red and Dammit Janet I Love Food were less impressed.
Bowery to Williamsburg
16 Oliver Lane, Melbourne
Accessibility: The outdoor area has flat access, but there's a short staircase down to the cafe proper. Things inside are pretty crowded - the outdoor tables were pretty close together too. Toilets were unisex but narrow, and access involved stairs.