Review: Bowery to Williamsburg (Melbourne, VIC)

16 Oliver Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9077 0162

Brooklyn, NYC is a long way from here so when I heard that Hardware Societe’s Will and Di Keser had opened up a New York deli-style café in the city, I was IN B4 that chick in When Harry Met Sally said that she’ll have what the other chick is having.

Blessed with one hour lunch breaks at the organisation I’m interning at, I had the opportunity to go to Bowery to Williamsburg for lunch last week. The café is named after a subway route that connects Manhattan to Brooklyn. I’m not sure how long it takes for one to get from the real Bowery to the real Williamsburg – and doing a Google search on this proved fruitless as the results were of blog pages dedicated to this dear Melbourne café (sucks if you’re a tourist in NYC). However, it only took me 5 minutes by tram during the post-lunch peak rush which I thought was pretty sweet.


Bowery to Williamsburg is located on Oliver Lane, which is a tiny cobblestoned pathway just off the Russell and Flinders Street intersection. The café itself is a wonderful mixture between Brooklyn loft and Melbourne warehouse chic, with cute little touches such as a communal table and subway signs (real or replicas, I’m not sure) for that little touch of authenticity.

Latte ($3.80)
Latte ($3.80)

Unlike most places in the States, you won’t find crappy drip filter coffee here. Padre provided the beans that made my latte so smooth with a lovely hint of hazelnut. At Hardware Societe, I often get a little donut with my coffee but here, we get a Hershey’s Kiss. It’s little touches like this that make all the difference.

Kosher salt and sugar
Kosher salt and sugar

I don’t normally take sugar with my coffee but if I ever need to, I’m glad that there are pots of Hardware Societe-style lovely cinnamon-y brown sugar scattered all over like pigeons on the steps of The Met. And if you want salt on your food, then kosher salt is your friend.

At lunchtime, sandwiches are the way to go. From the Reuben to the schmaltz chicken to the pastrami, there is a sandwich for everyone. And for the vegetarians, the breaded eggplant with haloumi or field mushroom with pomegranate tabouli are sure to excite. Sandwiches are $12.50 on their own (expensive, yes; worth it, yes) but a better option would be to pay the extra $4 for a lunch tray which consists of a sandwich, a side, a pickle and a handful of pretzels. And that’s what I did.

Lunch set with lox bagel and mac & cheese ($16.50)
Lunch set with lox bagel and mac & cheese ($16.50)

I couldn’t say no to the mac & cheese for my side and while it was nice enough, I decided that I could make a tastier version at home. On any other day, I would have happily gone a pastrami sandwich but I was craving a bagel for some reason I grabbed a lox bagel as my ‘sandwich.’ Watching the other diners much on massive sandwiches, I must admit that I had food envy – sif give me a bagel this tiny! My grumpiness went away, however, when I sunk my teeth into the boiled bagel supplied by 5 & Dime.

It was amazing.

Glicks had always been my benchmark for a good bagel in Melbourne but I have to say that I loved this one better. It was chewy like all good bagels should be, but the winning component was the beautifully golden and crunchy skin. So good, so damn good!


The filling was also amazing. There was a generous amount of lox (smoked brined salmon) and the dill cream cheese schmear was lovely. Meanwhile, the onions were cured in lime and the horseradish was flavoured and coloured with lots of beetroot for bit of an Aussie twist.

For those who love their desserts, there’s an assortment of homemade sweets available. I wasn’t in the mood for any sweets that day so I left without sampling their maple pecan pie. I will endeavour to give it a shot next time – that is, if the New York cheesecake doesn’t tempt me first.

As much as I’m a tad over all the American-style eateries popping up all over town, I think that Bowery to Williamsburg is a welcome addition amongst the sea of burgers, sliders and tacos. There is a possibility that bagels will one day invest Melbourne like rats in a New York skewer and annoy the hell out of everyone. For now though, I’m pretty happy with Bowery to Williamsburg’s lox bagels.

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  1. Tomorrow I am going to cook porterhouse from preston halal meatworks marinate with teriyaki sauce for 10 hours and combine with crunchy woolworths salad ……. Libby

  2. This looks like a great little place, and the food sounds beautiful. FYI, the brown line covers the subway route that runs from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and the journey between Bowery and one of the Williamsburg stations takes a few minutes. I only know this as I’ve travelled that line a couple of times already, as I’m in NY now.

  3. I’m a big fan of Bowery to Williamsburg too! Next time, try their walnut/chocolate brownie. It’s insane! 🙂

    Mmm… panela sugar is my favourite! I bought a kilo bag of it at a fancy cafe and now sprinkle it on EVERYTHING.

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