NYC’s Bluestone Lane serves up premium coffee drinks in a relaxed, authentic cafe environment that reflects its Australian influence. Tucked away in a cozy corner in the West Village sits the Collective Cafe, which serves healthy, locally-sourced breakfast and lunch dishes in a casual yet sophisticated cafe environment. This season, we partnered with the Bluestone team to create a healthy, Australian-influenced breakfast menu, complete with their signature coffee drinks. Read on to get the story behind the cafe and the food.
Tell us about your background. How did you become interested in food? What led you to Bluestone Lane?
I started working with Peter Rowland Catering back in Melbourne as a part time job when I was 16. It was by chance and I never realized when I started that it would pave the way for my future. I stayed with them for 7 years- it was a fantastic job and gave me such good grounding for things that followed. I learned many principles at PRC from great mentors I still put into practice today.
I have always been interested in food but the last few years I have used Instagram as a means of fueling my passion. Aside from keeping me inspired and motivated, what started purely as a creative outlet and a means of keeping track of and collating my food ideas and experiments, it eventually led to my involvement with Bluestone Lane. My friend, Nick, was interested in what I was doing and asked me to be involved with the menu for BSL.
What is your food and cooking philosophy? How do you apply that at Bluestone Lane?
I believe in eating in a simple, balanced & healthy way that nourishes our bodies and satisfies. Healthy can be delicious, and I wanted the Bluestone Lane menu to be a reflection of this.
How long did it take you to create the menu? What were your biggest inspirations?
The menu evolved over a few months, and was constantly refined over and over through this period as the project progressed.
My inspiration has come from a few places. I’m continually inspired by the never-ending stream of new cafes opening in my hometown. The standard is just so high in Melbourne, and café menus are consistently so innovative, creative and fresh.
I’m forever inspired by the sea of Instagrammers. Seeing people doing new things and experimenting with different ingredients gets me so excited.
My family is also a huge inspiration, and we have always had a simple, wholesome approach to eating and sharing meals, which really is my base when it comes to food. We still come together often for a meal and I’m always amazed by either my parents delicious, simple dishes. We are known for our big Greek Easter barbecues with a fantastic spread of beautiful fresh food, and a few of my mum’s and brother’s recipes have made their way to the menu!
Are there dishes that didn’t make it onto the Bluestone Lane menu?
As the menu was refined, certain dishes did have to be crossed off the list as we saw what was possible with our space–omelettes, scrambled egg dishes, buckwheat pancakes. I hope to implement some of these items in future stores!
Which dishes are your favorites? Which dishes are customer favorites?
A definite favorite for me is the quinoa porridge, which we have had a summer and winter version of. I’m a huge oatmeal fan, so this is a version of an old classic, and it has also been very popular among customers. Of course the avocado smash is also a winner with customers.
How does the food pair with the coffee?
We place just as much emphasis on high standard food as we do on our coffee. It’s important to us that our food is just as delicious and well presented as the coffee it is served with.
Besides Bluestone, what are some of your favorite restaurants in NYC and beyond?
I love Little Collins in Midtown, and have probably eaten way too many of their sage omelet sandwiches since being here! I think its safe to say I’m addicted. ABC Kitchen for lunch or dinner, always so fresh and delicious and the service is great. I enjoyed a great breakfast at Dimes in New York recently, and had a fantastic bowl of ramen on a cold rainy NYC day at Totto Ramen. I also had amazing ramen at Uncle in Denver on a recent trip. In LA Sqirl is one of my favorite brunch spots. This winter I’ve really been enjoying the grass fed, organic broths from Brodo’s hole in the wall on First Ave.
How does Australian food culture influence your cooking style?
Australian food culture is very forward thinking and healthy, and presentation is also very important. These are things I’m always considering when developing dishes.
What are you favorite things to cook at home?
For breakfast, chia pudding features heavily on my breakfast repertoire! I also love egg dishes incorporating lots of vegetables. For dinner it’s usually simple salads with protein, and in the winter I love doing slow cooked meats. In the summer, nothing beats outdoor BBQ cooking!
If you could eat one Bluestone Lane menu item every day, it would be…?
It would have to be the quinoa porridge!
Follow Sappho on Instagram @_sappho_