Two Hands Brings Australian Touch To Tribeca

The recently opened Two Hands restaurant is already catching the attention of downtowners; both as a caffeine pitstop and sit-down dining experience. Roxy Hotel took five with co-owner Giles Russell to find out why the Australian expat and his partner, Henry Roberts, decided to expand, what made them settle on Tribeca, some of their favorite culinary haunts and exactly how Americans should approach Vegemite.

Why Tribeca for the new location?

Tribeca was perfect for a number of reasons. We both live in TriBeCa and love spending time in the neighborhood, it’s beautiful, relaxed, historic and by the water, all things we love. It’s also a neighborhood full of people who we thought were missing a community hangout in the style of Two Hands, a place where you can come and eat deliciously healthy food accompanied by the best coffee (and now beer, wine & cocktails as well).

What made you build the restaurant, and not another coffee shop?

Two Hands Cafe on Mott St is an example of Australian cafe food in its most simple form – easy, delicious and healthy. We wanted to show the city of New York a more accurate representation of the style of food that is being created in Australian cafes right now. Australia is a world class food scene and we want to be able to show New York that.

Aside from the Flat White and Avocado toast, what other Australian specialties are you educating NY’ers on?

Australian classics are more about ingredients than specific dishes. It’s what we do with these specific ingredients the make the cuisine so unique. For breakfast and lunch at the new Two Hands you’ll see a lot of the same ingredients such as eggs, avocado, mushrooms, spinach and bacon that you see at Two Hands Cafe but our new Chef Frankie Cox has added new elements to make dishes a little more complex and intricate, which brings our new flavors and textures.

What is the signature dish and drink that everyone needs to come downtown for?

We hope that every dish is a signature dish! Right now though, everyone who comes into the restaurant is really enjoying our Brassicas Bowl which is nicely paired with a Palmy Spritz.

Any secret menu items you can share with us?

No secret menu items we can share as of yet but our whole dinner menu is a secret that we are very excited to share come April when we open for dinner. Stay tuned for that.

Do the locals understand Australian lingo?

Yes, I think there’s an strong understanding of the Aussie lingo in TriBeCa now due to how many Australian’s live downtown now, which is great for us.

Got a tip for Americans giving Vegemite a try for the first time?

My tip would be to try it more than once. Your first time trying Vegemite will always be very confronting, it’s a flavor like no other. If you have it a few times, you’ll start to appreciate it and become addicted pretty quickly.

What’s the main thing you look for in a new team member? What’s so great about the Two Hands team?

We look for people who are passionate about people and who want to communicate that through great hospitality. At Two Hands we hope that every staff member treats every person that walks through the door as if they were family. We are all about creating a community of people that care about each other. When you mix that with delicious food and drink, you can’t got wrong! I think all our Two Hands staff currently embodied that and that makes it unbelievably enjoyable to work with them.

Any food idols here in the city?

Most definitely. Danny Meyer would have to be number one, what he has created in the hospitality industry in this city is unmatched, he redefined hospitality and is continuing to do so every year. Other idols include Michael Chernow, Keith McNally, Andrew Tarlow, Sean McPherson and Ian Schrager. They have all created venues in New York that have changed how we view restaurants, bars and hotels all in their own unique way.

Favorite spots in NYC that you would recommend (after TH of course)

We love Estela, the food there is next level. Uncle Boons is super fun and their Thai food is spot on. Charlie Bird is perfect when you want to try some really amazing wines with dinner. And Contra and Wildair are creating some unbelievable dishes paired with fantastic natural wines.

What’s next for you two?

Dinner at Two Hands in TriBeCa is the next exciting step for us. We are really excited to share our Chef Frankie Cox’s dinner menu, she’s created some very special dishes that we know people will love!