New York and Sydney may be almost 10,000 miles apart, but this cafe restaurant brings them a little closer.
New York and Sydney may be almost 10,000 miles apart, but when it comes to capturing that iconic American panache so many of us know and love, recently opened Bowery Lane aims to prove distance is relative with the right ingredients.
Hidden away under the towering office block at no.1 O'Connell and accessible via a second street-facing entrance, the cafe restaurant combines fashion with farm, taking its inspiration from the once-agricultural-then-high-society suburb of early 1800s Manhattan. The former is evident in the warehouse-style ceilings, gorgeous high booths, exposed bulb lighting above large communal tables and soft black leather banquets juxtaposed with crisp, white tiles and hessian curtains. The latter, as you can imagine, via the menu.
With an emphasis on locally sourced produce, cocktails and a comprehensive spirits list to sate its predicted majority banker/lawyer clientele, said menu has already had a little journey of its own. Initially linked to chef Jeff Turnbull (High St Bistro), it received its first write up via Braden White (Rickys, Noosa). However, according to general manager Nick Bayss, ex O Bar and Dining, Richard Duff now heads up the open kitchen, visible via a gangway linking the main restaurant to a hotplate takeaway section for busy business folk on the go.
Already packed out come 1pm, the dining room is designed for breakfast, lunch and (by early September) dinner too. Again according to Bayss, the main attractions here are the slow-cooked lamb ($55), barbecue organic chicken ($48) and pork collar ($46) share dishes, which, with a couple of sides, will happily feed three or four people and only set you back about $30 a head.
Just two on our visit, however, we decided to pick through the menu, beginning with warm Mt Zero olives ($7), manchego croquettes and chargrilled lamb ribs (both $14). The smoked chilli aioli with the croquettes packed a perfectly balanced fiery punch, while the tender, award-winning Milly Hill meat fell off the bone with the help of some seriously vibrant chimmichurri. One of our accompanying cocktails, sadly, was not as impressive. While the New York Sour ($15) was nice and subtle with a firm Bulleit Rye whiskey presence, the Cosmopolitan City ($16) was too sweet. That being said, there are eight more on the menu we didn't try.
Next came the house smoked hickory salmon ($17), served with thinly sliced toasted rye bread, puffed wild rice and bottarga salad (cured fish roe). Fresh, thick and meaty, the salmon comes in three fat chunks and makes an ideal sized entree for the giant pork cotoletta (aka schnitty, $27) that followed with slaw and garlic aioli. If you like your condiments, you'll enjoy the aioli, but hats off to these guys here: this deep-fried cutlet was so juicy all we needed was a squeeze of lemon, plus the apple and pea slaw — genius. Throughout we sipped on the fabulously deep and weighty South Australian Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon ($57 per bottle), one of the 50 or so local and US wines on offer.
But to put it simply, whether you're after a long boozy lunch like us, or something smaller, Bowery Lane will impress. If the intention here was to prove Sydney can add its own stamp to the service and selection that makes New York such a world renowned destination: mission accomplished.