Hare and the Turtle
1/63 New Windsor Road
It's taken me far too long to find Hare and the Turtle. But now that I have found it, I'm going to tell everyone about it. Hidden on a suburban street in New Windsor is this unpretentious neighbourhood cafe that does one, okay two things, really really well. They are grilled sandwiches, and their glorious glorious cinnamon buns.
The twee cafe seems to be the neighbourhood hangout; everyone coming and going know the staff behind the counter and vice versa. Not much separates you from the action, their kitchen happily exposed so that you can hear your sandwich being grilled to order. Their menu is short and refined. Eight grilled sandwiches, some muesli, eggs and pancakes if you wish, and their blessed cinnamon buns. There's also a few baked goods at the counter, but who would waste their calories on cakes and slices when there are buns to be had?
The sandwich is a much overlooked food I often avoid because they're always a bit naff. I've been traumatised by several years of ham and mustard sandwiches at school (followed by a stint of tuna sandwiches, after I said once that I liked tuna, which really meant I like it when the sandwich doesn't always feature ham and mustard). But each of H&T's sandwiches is an exemplary specimen. The first time I visited I ordered the Baloney, an exquisite stack of mortadella, melted provolone cheese, dijon mustard and mayo. I can hear the nay-sayers go "But that's just a ham and mustard sandwich!" Well then it's the best f*cking ham and mustard sandwich I've had. Its toasted house-baked bun is wonderfully crusty and light, the perfect vessel for showcasing the beautiful cheese and small goods inside. The mortadella, a little crisp around the edges, has a nice tang to it. I scoffed my Baloney in record time. My post nightshift compadre Anna ordered the Gobbler, a sandwich featuring roast turkey, cranberry jam, smoked cheddar and mayo.
Not long after I returned for a second visit and tried the Daisy, a sandwich of toasted thickly sliced white bread with slow cooked beef cheek, melted edam and pickle. The folk at H&Ttruly are expert sandwich makers; the Daisy's bread was perfectly grilled with a buttery-caramelised exterior that was crisp all the way through (I hate grilled sandwiches which get a token grilling with the rest of the bread remaining soft and cold in the middle). The cheese pull factor for this sandwich was unexpectedly off the chain. I had cheese pulls in my hair, hanging off my chin, it was obscene. The Russian-style dressing kept things moist and tangy, crammed full of finely chopped gherkin, and the addition of sauerkraut helped to keep this sandwich from sliding into too-rich territory.
I don't have much of a sweet tooth, so liking H&T's cinnamon bun breaks all the rules for me. But it really is a thing of beauty. This lush brown snail of twisting dough is light as a feather with a subtle richness to it. It is warm and spicy with cinnamon butter slathered within its folds and its soft outer delivers just the right amount of bite with a well rounded caramelised crust. And finally the jewel in the crown (a better descriptor is the jizz on its crown but that's a bit gross) is the sticky, condense milk-like drizzle of icing, so moreish you hope that they have a pot of it somewhere into which you can dunk mouthfuls of bun. Maybe too much wishful thinking.
So you get it, the cinnamon bun is great, and your visit is not complete until you have ordered one. Sharing is optional. Hare and the Turtle clearly has an ethos of do a few things and do them perfectly, and for that reason you won't be disappointed.