Where do local Aussies want to hang out when they want to be around other Aussies, or at least drink a Coopers beer, nosh on a sausage roll or watch a footy game? Here are a few places in New York that I go if I want a slice of home.
For a decent meal, some kangaroo or barramundi perhaps, there’s the perennial favorite Eight Mile Creek in Soho. We’ve spent many an evening in the upstairs dining room or the heated outdoor area, enjoying top-notch Australian wines and slightly more elegant food than befits the misguided Crocodile Dundee stereotype that America has too long embraced. It’s one of the few places I’ve been able to find good pavlova too.
Tuck Shop in the East Village is the place for a quick cup of coffee – that’s a flat white where I come from – and a meat pie or sausage roll. And the lamingtons and vanilla slices are about as good as you can find in NY. I was here for Australia Day, the Aussie version of St. Patrick’s Day celebrated January 26, and the staff was great. The server treated us to lamingtons and threw in an extra one for me to bring home to the kids. A lamington for the uninitiated is an Australian childhood favorite; a slab of white sponge cake, filled with strawberry jam, dipped in chocolate syrup and dredged in shredded coconut.
There’s a second location too, at St Marks Place, and hot off the presses, they just got a license to sell beer and wine. As part of the long-awaited coup, Tuck Shop is introducing New York to the Esky. For $30, you can get six beers at the table in a mini Esky to keep it extra cold. The St Marks Place location also has Billy Tea, Tim Tams, beloved Vegemite and other Aussie treats for sale.
And while you’re downtown, the Sunburnt Cow and Bondi Road Fish + Chips are great spots for drinks and eats. Yep, you’ll get meat pies, burgers, lamb chops, fish+ chips – all the usual drinking food with a fun, laid-back vibe. I hear there is a The Sunburnt Calf now on the Upper West Side too, but I’ve yet to check it out.
The Australian is where you go for very large glasses of red wine (and very large headaches the next morning!) and non-stop sports action. Sports junkies are glued to the TV screens for cricket matches and rugby league, and the proprietor, a former rugby league player himself, will happily shoot the breeze about the game. Great place to take visiting sports writers or wannabe sportsmen.
If you’re in Brooklyn, the coffee and meat pies at The Pie Shop in Prospect Park come straight from the ovens of DUB Pies (Down Under Bakery), which started out with its prime storefront on Columbia Street. The coffee is good, the pies and sausage rolls are pretty decent, there’s catering and delivery to boot, and chances are you’ll hear an Australian or New Zealand accent working the counter.
Then there’s Sheep Station on Fourth Avenue, Park Slope, where the shearer’s burger (a burger topped with beets, pineapple and a fried egg), lamb chops and fish + chips are worth the trip to the otherwise pretty barren block. There is a fireplace too.
If you just want to read about Australian food, hit the newsstand at Barnes & Noble for the occasional good, out-of-season and pricey Australian food mag. Donna Hay’s breezy, beautifully styled magazines channel Martha Stewart but with that laid back Aussie feel. And there’s usually a Vogue Entertaining + Travel lurking on the shelves.