Nieuw Amsterdam

This new bistro and cocktail bar is delivering refined American eats and disco beats from lunch till dawn

Few chefs could convince us that a deconstructed clam chowder is a good idea. But Nick Stanton is that prodigy. He’s the young meat-loving chef with razor sharp techniques who made even the porkiest bar snacks at the Woods of Windsor a fine dining proposition. Now he’s at Nieuw Amsterdam – Hardware Street’s slinky new American-style bistro and late-night cocktail bar – and he’s using those same skills to make the fanciest brisket, doughnuts and grits fritters you ever did see.

That New York chowder is a pretty plate of clams, thick-cut bacon, acid-bright cherry tomato bombs and carefully turned potatoes and carrots, all united by a bright and creamy clam-stock liquor. It's pretty far flung from Manhattan's tomato-based soup, but those flavours are united and hence the dish is not defeated. And damned if Nieuw Amsterdam isn’t just a bundle of unexpected like that. 

For starters you’d never know the beautiful split-level venue was recently sticky Irish boozer Pugg Mahones. They got the Jameson and sweat smell out, but they’ve kept the bones, adding a smooth marble bar to the backdrop of brick arches, dark buffed wood and the outline of a New York City skyline upstairs. Downstairs it’s a dim-lit stand-alone bar which joins Boney, Le Bon Ton, and Loch and Key in doing a dawn service.

Yep, rock up before 5am and they’ll happily sling you some salty pork hock nuggets (gelatinous balls of meaty crunch), pints of Belgium’s fruity Leffe beer, and bourbon and cola Old Fashioneds. You’ll want the latter. Bartender Sean McGuire updates the bogan’s best pal with a lime, black pepper and cola syrup, stirred down with bourbon and bitters over a hunk of ice.

That’s the great thing here – you get just as good an experience upstairs or down, and at either end of the day. In charge is Michael Roszbach – ten-year veteran of Thai restaurant-cum-cocktail bar Cookie – and all that experience shows itself here in the winning trifecta of great service, good booze and solid food.

At lunch it’s all about chunky Reubens, big barbecued prawn and edamame salads and $22 meat trays. Again, this is soul food in name only. Our silver tray holds sticky hunks of charcoal-roasted beef brisket with a boat of rich jus, and mashed potato so buttery it practically pours off the plate. Crunchy relief comes from pickled cucumbers and a cabbage salad peppered with coriander, chilli and fried shallots. It's not complicated stuff, but you can taste that the kitchen gives a red hot damn.

At dinner, things turn to the usual share plate format with extra snacks and sides. We're coming back for the fluffy little bite-size waffles, triple-stacked with chicken terrine, a neat quenelle of silky pâté and shards of chicken crackling. It may be the perfect beer snack. And did we mention the pumpkin doughnuts? A sextet of golfball-sized cakes that are all crunch, fluff and cinnamon, for dunking in whipped cream made boozy with bourbon.

Nieuw Amsterdam has a lot of plates in the air, but they’re not dropping a one. Come early for dinner. Stay late for disco. Anytime is the right time.

Want to attend the Melbourne Food Awards?

First published on . Updated on .

By Gemima Cody   |   Photos by Graham Denholm   |  

Nieuw Amsterdam details

106-112 Hardware St

Melbourne 3000

Nearby Stations: Melbourne Central

Telephone 03 9602 2111

Price per person including drinks $51 to $100

Open Daily noon-late

Nieuw Amsterdam website

Melbourne area guide

Nieuw Amsterdam map

Restaurants near Nieuw Amsterdam

The Hardware Societe

20m - Three months ago, some oil-impregnated towels caught on fire in the dryer of...

Giraffe Café

58m - This cute café is an oasis of random knick-knacks and miss-matched...

Silo by Joost

73m - Silo is a completely waste-free café, brought to Melbourne by Joost Bakker,...

Bars & pubs near Nieuw Amsterdam

Pugg Mahones: Melbourne

0m - An Irish-themed pub in the heart of the city, also serving food.

La La Land Bar

58m - Got a living room the size of a cupboard? Still using milk crates as...

Horse Bazaar

70m - Horse Bazaar means different things to different people - it's a bar, music...

Other venues near Nieuw Amsterdam

Brazilian Sunset

73m - Brazilian Sunset offers everything involving Brazilians including aftercare...

Rancho Notorious

84m - Upstairs at  1000 Pound Bend  is Rancho Notorious, a...

Intrepid Travel Melbourne

89m - Melbourne travel agency, Intrepid Travel bring you in house events from all...

Readers' comments, reviews, hints and pictures

Community guidelines

blog comments powered by Disqus

© 2007 - 2014 Time Out Group Ltd. All rights reserved. All material on this site is © Time Out.