Do a quick internet search with the words “Australia,” “coffee,” and “NYC,” and you’ll see about twenty versions of the same article pop up on the topic of Australian coffee culture invading New York. We’ll save you some reading with a summary: Sydney and Melbourne have better coffee than New York, and smart people are realizing that. Those smart people are opening up shops around town that serve Aussie espresso drinks with cool names like the “flat white” and the “long black,” and all of your coffee snob friends are buying in big time.
Little Collins is one of these new Australian coffee shops, but where it’s from is not what we find remarkable. We’re more impressed with where it is. Situated on Lexington Avenue at 56th Street, Little Collins is a total anomaly. This is the kind of sleek, trendy cafe that you expect to find in Tribeca or Brooklyn, not twelve paces from the world’s most disgusting TGI Friday’s. But the owners must have simply decided to act on what many of us who work in Midtown have known forever - there is nothing good to eat for breakfast or lunch around these parts. It’s about time someone tried to fix that.
Whatever the reason that Little Collins ended up in Midtown East, we’re incredibly happy that it did. I am a big coffee drinker, so I’m obviously glad to have this as a stop along my morning walk to work. The people are nice, they use fancy machines to make the drinks, and the place is always full of regulars (Australians). More importantly, though, we love coming here for the food they serve. Little Collins has an excellent menu of sandwiches and salads, and they’re all very reasonably priced. Two people can have a quick, high-quality meal in this place for around $25, or you can grab a sandwich and go for under $10. You’re gonna pay almost that much for a turkey and sad tomato wrap from the place in your office building that also serves pizza, sushi, and make-your-own burritos. Why wouldn’t you eat here instead?
The Pick Me Up
This sandwich from the “Brekkie” section of the menu packs some punch. It’s a sage omelet on soft white bread with balsamic tomatoes, sautéed onions, and a lot of tabasco - presumably to wake your sorry ass up. We love it, but before you order it, know that you’re in for a spicy vinegar smack in the face.
This is the Little Collins version of avocado toast, a dish that originated Down Under (and I don’t mean Cafe Gitane). The avocado is mashed up with a bunch of feta and then topped with some chili flakes and pumpkin seeds for extra flavor. Unfortunately, there’s too much feta in the mix for our taste, but maybe you’re Greek or something.
The Big Dill
An excellent breakfast sandwich with cured salmon, scrambled eggs, dill, and mascarpone. It’s not necessarily “big,” but it is delicious, and sizable enough to fill you up for a full day of hating Midtown.
For $10, I’m not sure you can get a better sandwich in this part of town. This giant pile of confit turkey is topped with a mustard grain relish and placed between two baguette-like buns. Order it.
Another lunchtime winner, this schnitzel is smothered in hummus and pickled onions. We reckon you’ll like it heaps.