I tend to avoid Newmarket as it has more than its fair share of sweaty schoolkids disturbing the peace, but a cream doughnut at Little & Friday or some meatballs from York Street Mechanics might make the ride over on the LINK worth it.
Tucked away on York Street and neighbouring the fun little Lucha Lounge, York Street Mechanics looks like a cross between a motorcycle showroom, a rustic dive bar, and the pool room of an Hell's Angel. There are lovingly restored old bikes dotted amongst roughly-hewn wooden tables, vintage ads and pin-up girls gracing the brick walls, exposed beams, old books and curios scattered about and a roaring fireplace.
It's homely and inviting and much bigger than it appears from the outside; a welcome respite from the rather industrial backstreets off Broadway. York Street offers four simple menus: breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, all with maybe half a dozen options each. It's pub fare, but classed-up and unisex. Mains on the lunch menu range from $20-$25 (which we thought was on the pricier side considering the smallish portion sizes), but the ingredients are clearly top shelf and the meals are beautifully presented on oiled wooden boards.
I had the fish burger ($25) with pan-baked blue cod, cress, pickled cucumber, lemon mayo and hand-cut fries. The fish was fresh and perfectly cooked and the mayo was amazing - my friend said she'd "eat almost anything if it was dipped in that stuff". Her open sirloin steak sandwich ($25) was not quite as impressive, with a touch too much salad and meat that was more medium-well done than medium-rare.
We also sampled the meatballs ($15) from the bar snacks menu, which were hand-rolled and served with a rich, tangy tomato sauce and focaccia - definitely the standout dish.
The only let-down was the service, which was not as attentive or quick as you'd expect on a quiet weekday afternoon. Perhaps the best time to come is at happy hour, when the place is much busier, the music louder and the staff livelier.
Rumour has it that the owners Doug and Liz are more than happy to have a chat and walk you through the open workshop out back, where custom bikes are created and hand-beaten onsite. It's a pretty noteworthy point of difference for an eatery and well worth a visit if you're into that sort of thing. If you're not, York Street Mechanics is still one of the best restaurants in the area and, with its generous opening hours, the only spot you can grab a Supreme coffee after four o'clock.