United States of America. Land of the free. Home of the deep fried twinky. In recent times, Melbournians have been captivated by the flavours of the South, with a host of new American influenced eateries pulling crowds across the city. Admittedly, it isn’t the most healthiest of cuisines with deep fried chicken waffles and artery clogging burgers making frequent appearances. But as Paula Dean would say ” I don’t want to spend my life not having good food going into my pie hole.” My pie hole couldn’t agree more (in moderation).
The following is a selection of Americana food tried recently in Melbourne:
1. Nieuw Amsterdam
If Southern food could wear a top-hat and proclaim ‘Toodle-oo’, Nieuw Amsterdam would be it’s fancy cousin. Hidden away in Hardware Street, is a modern interpretation of traditional american cuisine. Clam chowders arrive deconstructed, and waffles are decked out with pate, terrine and crispy chicken skin. The Pitt Grill will satisfy the meat lovers, where meat is smoked in a barbecue ‘pit’ . A tad different from the ol’ barbie, but equally as delicious.
The standout dish was the Clam Chowder. The mixture of thickly cut bacon, potatoes and fresh clams enveloped in a thick clam stock was creamy and indulgent. Prices were also reasonable, paying only $35/head for a content belly. The winner of best casual diner definitely deserves its crown.
2. Miss Katie’s Crab Shack
Moving further down south, into the weeping willows of Louisiana, where cuisine is strongly influenced by Cajun and Creole flavours. Miss Katie’s Crab Shack is inspired by this segment of Southern cuisine. The crustacean inspired decor signals heavily that crab is the signature dish. With a humorously large bib and mallet, I smashed my way through the signature crab boil. Australian blue swimmer crabs, sourced directly from Queen Victoria Market, are seasoned generously with Old Bay crab seasoning and boiled in a mixture of spices and aromatics. Unfortunately, I enjoyed the smoked kranski and buttery corn cobs more than the crab itself. The mushy texture and lack of firmness was indicative of a lack of freshness. Quite a shame, considering the seasoning and garlic butter was quite good. With a convenient location across from QVM, Miss Katie’s is worth a visit, but with a slogan of ‘Darn Good Crabs’, I expected better quality at $25 a hit.
*Note: Miss Katie’s will be moving to the Rochester Castle Hotel in Fitzroy
3. Bowery to Williamsburg
Moving to the skylines and dirty streets of New York, an inspiration for restaurateurs and fashionistas alike. Bowery to Williamsburg pays homage to New York style sandwiches, piled high with thick slices of pastrami, juicy sauerkraut and slathers of melted cheese. All sandwiches come served with a handful of pretzels, an unnecessary pickle and a choice of sides – from creamy mac & cheese to healthier alternatives such as tabbouleh. Lunchtime is a busy affair with a constant flow of hungry office workers, but don’t feel limited by the sandwiches, as other gluttonous brunch options also exist at this cobblestone diner.
The Reuben w/ Tabbouleh