Big Dog’s Deli
Big Dog’s Deli opened in Richmond late last year. It’s styled on the sandwich shops of America serving rolls, subs and sliced bread wrapped around high-quality, considered fillings. Everything – except the bread – is made in-house. The idea came from owner Emely Donegan’s time spent travelling, working and cooking in Los Angeles and Portland.
There are nine sandwiches on the menu, and the fillings change. The J-Fo is a sub with veal and pork meatballs with sugo, smoked scamorza, pecorino and basil, and the Captain is house-smoked pastrami; kraut; and Swiss and Russian dressing on toasted rye.
Like many sandwich spots in America, Big Dog’s is also a bar. The drinks list includes a couple of bottled cocktails and there are draught beers (rotating after every keg), but the can and bottle choice is bigger.
Most American-themed bars and restaurants in Melbourne lean towards smoked meats and the Texan-style barbeque of the South. Not Silverlake Social. Chapel Street’s new US-style bar is inspired by the watering holes of sunny California. Named for a suburb of LA, Silverlake Social is by brothers Nicholas and Thomas Welch, who also own White Oaks Saloon on Greville Street, and Byron Barrowclough. Nicholas describes Silverlake as “a glorified American local”.
While all the elements you already associate with a low-key American bar are there – NBA and NFL on the TV (“We’ve got season passes for both,” says Nicholas); NWA and the Eagles on the speakers; a pool table; neon; and enormous beer taps – it’s also refined.
Co-owner Barrowclough has chosen more than 25 packaged beers, including boutique selections such as Salitos Tequila beer and Lost Coast Sharkinator IPA, as well as American classics such as Pabst Blue Ribbon and Budweiser. Blue Moon, Brooklyn Lager and four other American beers are on tap. There’s another American bar trait Silverlake has embraced: the kitchen is open until about 12.30am every night.
Westside Ale Works
Westside Ale Works is not named for west Melbourne – it refers to the style of bold, punchy beer brewed on America’s West Coast, which is the inspiration here. Brewer Casey Wagner, an American expat, has lived in Melbourne for three years, and Westside is his bid to recreate a San Diego-style beer experience south of the CBD.
San Diego breweries such as Stone Brewing and Ballast Point have helped the term “West Coast” become synonymous with hoppy, bitter beers with bold citrus and pine flavours. Wagner's ultra laid-back bar has a stripped-down, rudimentary vibe; it has a couple of trestle tables, some mismatched furniture and handwritten signage. With the brewhouse just a few steps away, there’s no doubt as to how far the beer has travelled to your glass, or how small the batch sizes are.
You won’t find shiny bottling or canning lines here either. Everything is packaged by hand into 750-millilitre bottles. There are three core beers: an American pale ale, an amber ale and a red IPA. This will expand to five in the near future. Wagner will also rotate seasonals and one-offs across the eight draught taps.