Since it opened last month, Bayswater Diner in Kings Cross has drawn attention for its playful, calorie-count-discouraging style of American diner food. There’s a “make your own sundae” option for dessert, where toppings include a packet-rip of Reese’s Pieces, M&Ms or Oreos; and if you look under the listing for Battered Onion Rings With Honey on the Side, the menu presents Mac and Cheese with this health-kick-defying suggestion: “live a little, add bacon” ($11).
You can now “live a little” between 10am-3pm on weekends, because Bayswater Diner has just started serving brunch at this time. With all the fried, high-carb, cheese-rich options on offer, ordering a Half Cantaloupe ($9) packed with fruit salad can seem like a saintly, boring move. But hear us out – this was our nutritional bargaining chip. Getting our saintly dose of melon and berries meant we now had the moral go-ahead for a hefty order of Herb and Sea Salt Shoestring Fries ($7). And as much as Will enjoyed his thoroughly unrestrained Reuben sandwich ($12), with its rich right hooks of cheese, corned beef, pickled cabbage and ranch dressing, having a palate/guilt-cleansing serving of fruit was much appreciated.
While Will covered the lunch beat, I was keen on breakfast – and the “important meal of the day” is done extremely well at Bayswater Diner. While there are a lot of fun choices – Huevos Rancheros ($14), Breakfast Burrito ($14), Buttermilk Pancakes ($15) with berry compote and hazelnut butter ($15); hell, even Scotch Fillet Steak ($17) if you’re up for it – I like the old fallback of eggs and sides. There are fancy add-ons, such as Smoked Sausage ($4) and Trout Gravlax ($4), but I opted for fried eggs (I naively asked them if they had fried eggs – as if they wouldn’t! They fry everything else!), mushrooms, coconut yogurt and hash browns.
As someone who is aiming for a lifetime achievement in the category of eating fried potato, I gotta say the hash browns at Baywater Diner are really good. Like, category-killer good! They’re not the traditional crisp, cross-hatched discs we’re familiar with. They’re a garlicky, herbed and salty jumble of potato cubes – tiny building blocks of delicious. Will says in America, they’re called “breakfast potatoes”. I hope they jump curfew and get served at all mealtimes. They’re damn fine.
The ‘shrooms are good, sure; the eggs are fried and sunny; and the tart coconut yogurt is good dunking practice for the dry wholemeal toast slices. But, really, the potatoes are the winner here.
Also a winner – the vibe at Bayswater Diner. The soundtrack is joyfully time-stamped in the American past, with a playlist that cycles through ’20s jazz to ’50s rock. The decor has the period-transporting elegance of art deco (with a few kitsch mustard bottles thrown in for fun); and, there are big open windows that allow you to stretch out your elbows and thoroughly exercise your people-watching skills (in fact, you get a good view of Barrio Chino opposite – which is also run by Bayswater Diner’s owners, Peter Lew and Nicole Galloway).
And even at brunch, you can still order the DIY sundae. That’s if you can decide between mini marshmallows, Maltesers or all the other nutritionally defiant toppings on tap.