Originally printed in the December 2019 issue of Produce Business.
Cuisine: Progressive Australian
It’s not often in fast-paced New York that you feel transported to a relaxing beach, but that’s precisely the intention of Two Hands, a community-style café with locations in Tribeca and Nolita. Along with friendly Australian hospitality, diners enjoy an all-day menu of simple fruit and vegetable-laden breakfast dishes, salads, bowls, sandwiches and burgers, inspired by Australia’s progressive culinary scene.
The concept was born in 2014 after friends Giles Russell and Henry Roberts moved from Sydney, Australia. They thought New York was missing bright, welcoming meeting places with healthy food and good coffee. So, they set up Two Hands, the name of which refers to what you can do with two hands; create delicious food, coffee and hospitality.
Reflecting the brightness and tranquility of the seaside, the lightly painted walls within each café are decorated with large images of the Australian coast by Australian artist, Nicolas Potts. The aim is for guests to escape the hustle and bustle, and relax with friends and locals, anytime of the week.
“Two Hands was developed to be a community-style cafe, in that we create a welcoming and comfortable environment and provide distinctly refreshing Australian hospitality,” explains Lucy Thom, operations manager. “The food we serve is designed to be simple and tasty, derived from great quality ingredients that speak for themselves.”
The culinary philosophy is to keep things fresh and simple. Rather than using lots of spice and flavor, ingredients are allowed to shine through, such as shaved kale or root vegetables, roasted tomatoes and sweet potato. Various herbs, seeds and nuts are used to elevate dishes. Ingredients are sourced as local as possible, and many dishes are vegetarian or vegan, with the option to add meat/fish.
Produce-loaded dishes include: the breakfast Acai Bowl (berries, banana and coconut milk, piled high with granola, toasted pepitas and seasonal fruit); and the Brassicas Bowl, a medley of charred broccolini, Brussels sprouts, kale, hummus, avocado and a soft-boiled egg with pickled shallots, buzz chilli and seeds; as well as baked goods like banana walnut bread or the sticky date waffle, plus smoothies and juices.
“We work to balance ingredients,” says Thom. “Many of our dishes are influenced by the classic Australian culinary scene, focusing on really tasty dishes you can enjoy all day long, rather than specifically breakfast, lunch or dinner. Fresh ingredients are vital to our dishes, and is what really brings the flavors out.”
Recently added to the menu were bowls, which Thom says have been very popular. “The Pulled Chicken Bowl, with green goddess kale, avocado, seeds, pickled jicama and watermelon radish, and roasted sweet potato, is one of our current favorites,” she says. “We put a lot of work into developing new items, so while some stay consistent, others, like sandwiches and bowls, we can play around with.”
The laid-back Australian concept has struck a chord with health-centric Millennials especially. In November, two additional locations opened in Noho and at the new Williamsburg Sugar Factory.
TWO HANDS (TRIBECA)
251 Church St, New York, NY, 10013
Tel: (917) 475-1815
Hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. everyday