"New York is a brilliant melting pot of food genres, with food movements and a culture that is forever evolving,” says Todd Clayton, owner of 5 Boroughs. “Just doing burgers isn't enough anymore. We’re travelling more than ever and there are global expectations to deliver on.”
Offering New York flavours at home was a two-decade-long dream of Clayton’s, realised when he and his wife Marisa opened their Stones Corner cafe 18 months ago and Ascot eatery in March. “Brisbane has really embraced it,” he says. “We’ve got people who come in wearing New York tees and caps.” So successful is the venture he plans to launch another outlet before the year’s end, and another two in 2017.
The pair wanted 5 Boroughs to be “more than just another burger joint”, he says. Specifically, they took notes from the incredible, multi-cultural diversity of the city.
There’s the karaage (Japanese fried chicken) with mayo; house smoked-beef brisket with bourbon-buttered corn; and The Cuban sandwich, with double cheese and dill pickles. Dessert options include a chocolate brownie – with hot-fudge sauce, of course.
Clayton thinks NYC has influenced dining culture in ways beyond the actual food, too. “People aren’t just eating between 5pm and 7pm,” he says. “They’re eating all night like they do in the States, while still wanting good quality ingredients.”
Red Hook co-owner Bonnie Shearston agrees. She says it’s because so much attention is now paid to every element of the dish.
“People don’t just grab a burger and slam it down these says,” says Shearston, who sells close to 175 of them every lunchtime at her inner-city restaurant and bar. “People are curious and they deconstruct. They take apart every layer and assess. The bun has to have the right spread of butter, the patty a perfect minced texture.”
Red Hook’s menu reads like a love letter to the Big Apple. Shearston and partner Tom Sanceau have diversified their multicultural offering to include a Wagyu-brisket burrito with hot sauce and coleslaw; char sui pork tacos with wombok salad; and buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce.
“We saw the burger craze sweeping through Brisbane and Australia as a whole,” says Shearston. “We wanted to add a different element to it. New York street food encompasses everything that’s great about the city in one broad selection, so we took inspiration from its food trucks and did as much research as we could to reflect them.”
Like its namesake (Red Hook is a neighbourhood in Brooklyn), it’s as important for Red Hook to have as good a vibe as it does grub. Stepping off the street and into the laneway bar as hip-hop plays, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported.
“New York is all about the hidden gems,” says Shearston. “The real experiences off the beaten path.”
Places to try Brooklyn-inspired food:
This article presented in partnership with Connoisseur Gourmet Ice-Cream’s new Brooklyn Collection.