When the Upper West Side and Prospect Heights outposts of Australian-themed Sunburnt Calf–satellites of East Village staple Sunburnt Cow and now-defunct LES bar Bondi Road–shuttered back in May, Aussies Tim Harris and Matilda Boland, who’d met doing time at the restaurants, jumped at the chance to carry the torch, and they took over the spaces to open a trio of new concepts.
“When business wound down at the end of last year, Matilda and I got together,” says Harris. “We wanted to do something in New York with an Australian feeling behind it.”
In Brooklyn, they quickly reopened the address as Hawker Bar, which deals in southeast Asian street food; the menu covers Vietnamese rolls, Thai curries, and dishes from Singapore, Malaysia, and China. “Southeast Asian fare is really popular in Australia given our proximity to southeast Asia,” Harris explains. “That’s where we travel. It’s where we go on cheap holiday. There’s a lot of immigration from that region to Australia, and we’re heavily influenced by food. That sort of food gets a little westernized here; it’s all sort of a different variation of American Chinese.”
The partners say that Hawker Bar is still finding its footing, but it’s slowly growing into the neighborhood restaurant they’d envisioned, which cleared the way for them to focus on their UWS venture, which necessitated a more significant overhaul.
In the uptown Sunburnt Calf space, the pair envisioned a duo of concepts, and they quietly opened the first, Burke & Wills–named for the first European explorers to cross Australia–just a couple of weeks ago. Harris explains this spot has “more of a European traditional menu focus with southeast Asian and Mediterranean influences. It’s much more of a colonial style.” Look for lamb sliders, prawns with chimichurri, roasted cod, and a kangaroo burger. The partners also installed a sizable brunch menu, which traipses through a number of classic egg dishes, peanut butter hotcakes with orange marmelade, a brekkie sandwich with vegemite, and a swagman’s breakfast that nets you steak, bacon, eggs, and crispy onions in a bath of hollandaise.
The food pairs to a drinks list from former Le Bernardin cocktail guru Greg Seider, a carefully edited selection of twisted classics like the rhubarb gimlet and the bushfire margarita made with mezcal instead of tequila.
Consider that a preview of what Seider will install in the forthcoming Manhattan Cricket Club upstairs, in which he’s a partner alongside Harris and Boland. That project, says Harris, sprung from the frustration of living on the Upper West Side and having difficulty tracking down a really good cocktail. “We felt that the cocktail culture so heavily represented downtown is not uptown,” he says. “I’ve lived in the Upper West Side for four years, and it’s hard to get a really good drink up there.”
So the team designed a space based on colonial sporting clubs in Melbourne, bars that Harris says facilitate a “social networking sort of affair built around around cricket.” The space, he says, “is very colonial with twists from all over Commonwealth countries that have cricket,” including India, South Africa, Australia, and the West Indies. “It’s a really luxury lounge that seats 40 people and has a high level of service,” he says.
That spot is slated to make its debut on September 30, after which the partners say they’ll be taking a break from openings. “I think that’s enough for now,” Harris laughs.