It took us awhile to find this place to be honest, it’s situated right in the middle of the city near Southern Cross station but is hidden away in an alleyway as Melbourne tends to do. Due to this we had a bit of difficulty, though our difficulty was probably just due to not knowing the city very well, I’m sure everybody else will find it just fine, and if you do, I’m going to take some credit for helping out here.
Stepping into Bowery to Williamsburg feels pretty much like stepping straight into New York, everything feels ripped straight from a place like Katz Deli, and this is definitely not a bad thing! Really brought back some great memories, and the food here just felt incredibly authentic, if you’re looking for a slice of Americana in Melbourne there really isn’t a much better place you could go than Bowery to Williamsburg.
Alright, enough intro, I suppose I’ll talk about food now.
First up, the Reuben sandwich ($12.50) with a side of mac and cheese, a pickle and some pretzels ($4), pastrami beef brisket, sauerkraut, russian dressing and swiss cheese. The menu was fairly basic and came out on this really cool postcard, I’d like to think it’s to signify being in New York but there’s a chance I’m looking too deeply into this. On the left you had your breakfast and lunch plates that were more standard sit in meals, and on the right you had the awesome deli sandwiches that New York is famous for. If you pick a sandwich, you have the choice to add a side and a pickle and some pretzel to make it a meal for an extra $4. I’ll discuss the Reuben itself a bit later so for this paragraph I’ll go over the sides.
We went with the mac and cheese because, well, honestly you just can’t really get a decent mac and cheese in Australia and it just breaks my heart. This definitely hit the spot though! It was super tasty, creamy, cheesy with a nice crispy crust on the top which you don’t find that often. Not sure what selection of cheeses they’ve used for this, but they didn’t go too hard with the grana padano or parmesan, because it had a full flavour but nothing overly powerful like the previously mentioned cheeses tend to do. The pretzels were really nice as far as pretzels go, but at the end of the day I’m sure they were just pretzels from a bag so I won’t go on about them.
Heres a close up of the Reuben sandwich itself, it was a good looking sandwich so I figured it deserved a close up. Well, good looking to me, I’m sure to some healthy people out there this looks like vomit. I’m not sure what to say to those people.
I’m a huge fan of reuben sandwiches, most sandwiches will have a meat element that overpowers the sandwich, a softer cheese element, and then some complimentary salads that give it a bit of crispness and freshness. The reuben however is this scientifically engineered sandwich of joy. The meat, extremely salty and flavourful pastrami, this is coupled with the extremely sour sauerkraut that bounces perfectly off the pastrami, all this is topped off with a lovely sweet russian dressing that by itself would be really sickening, but combined with the other two flavours balances it all perfectly. It’s the perfect ying yang of sandwiches and I’ve never seen anything match it.
All of the ingredients were amazing but I need to pay particular attention to the russian dressing, which was amazing, and added a lot of flavour. It honestly is a bit like a weird big mac sauce, bad description I know, but I do what I can. I was really surprised by the russian dressing being in this sandwich because of how legit it is for a Reuben, most places in Australia just use mustard which kind of works, but it’s not right and I’m glad to find a place that goes all the way to get it authentic. All the ingredients just went perfectly to create a delicious tasting and balanced sandwich. Would recommend this place for any reuben lover out there.
Secondly, the Pulled pork hash ($16) with cornbread, broccoli rabe and poached eggs. Amazing! You can’t see the broccoli rabe here but its under the eggs or cornbread somewhere, so there’s some greens in this dish. As I was eating it, I didn’t even realise it was broccoli, and I later learned that’s because broccoli and broccoli rabe are actually quite different. Rabe is more leafy, looks like a more herby, leafy version of kale. It tasted pretty good, and I think it was pickled, reminded me of those pickled veggies you get at Chinese restaurants. Worked really well to balance out the richness of the pulled pork.
The pulled pork was really fantastic, I love American food, but I’m generally not a huge fan of pulled pork, and this is because most places will go a bit crazy with running their marinade through it and it comes out really really sweet. This was not the case here, really nice pulled pork where the smokey meatiness really took centre stage. It was super juicy and full of flavour. The cornbread was fantastic as well, it was really thin and crispy, which worked well because the dish was a bit of a wet mess, and having really crumbly cornbread would’ve made this a bit unmanageable.
Here’s a shot of the perfectly poached eggs oozing out over this dish. Every time we get poached eggs we do a thing, inspired by a friend of ours, where we look and we guess whether it’s going to be poached or pwned. Poached being the above picture, and pwned being overcooked eggs, with no oozing. Pretty much if I get pwned my entire week is ruined, so these are pretty serious stakes here. Glad to report that the eggs at Bower to Williamsburg are poached perfectly!
For drinks, we decided to go with the Peanut butter hot chocolate ($5). This was a quirky little drink, nothing says America more than a Reese’s peanut butter cup! This was a super rich and creamy hot chocolate with pretty strong peanut butter flavours to it, and it was really nice, but it definitely made you feel like a healthy lifestyle after you were done. Not a lot of foods have single handedly done that to me. I’m pretty sure it’s just a cup of hot chocolate with a Reese cup mixed into it. Nevertheless, tasted great and came in a cool looking hipster cup which was pre-shaped to fit your fingers. If the picture wasn’t obvious.
Bowery to Willamsburg was amazing! I absolutely loved everything here and I cannot stress enough how authentic it was, whether you love a reuben or not, you’ll be able to say you’ve tried one, a real one, if you have one here at Bowery to Williamsburg. This isn’t like those sandwich shops that sell you a reuben and inside is corned beef and mustard. I know American is really getting big in Australia but there isn’t really many places that do it quite so well as Bowery to Williamsburg. I really hope some places like this open up in Sydney or Canberra so I can eat it more often! In the meantime, I’ll definitely be coming back to satisfy my American food craving.