Shiny grill time

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DeGrill, Sunshine Marketplace, Sunshine. Phone: 0402 189 860

A small, single-frame cartoon in the Sunday Age a few years back always makes me chuckle when I think of it.

Two blokes are surveying the Sunshine Marketplace shopping centre.

One says to the other: “Wow – this really is the United Nations of bogans!”

I like it because it’s bloody funny.

But I also like it because I like it that Sunshine Marketplace is like that.

We may live in Yarraville, hit the new fried chicken place in WeFo as soon doing so is viable and even frequent hipster places in Footscray proper … but we love all the west and its people and food.

Which is why CTS loves venturing to not only Sunshine, but also Werribee, Deer Park and beyond – and will continue to eat and review and tell stories from well beyond the ribbon that is the inner west.

 

 

So we applaud the opening of DeGrill at Sunshine Marketplace.

It’s a bold and adventurous move – it is situated, after all, right opposite Maccas and right next door to the cinemas.

I could say that DeGrill is aiming for the same sort of focus as Grill’d or Nando’s – but that would be doing DeGrill a disservice.

Because the menu is significantly more broad than such a comparison might imply.

I suspect the menu may have to be tweaked over time to find out what really works in this particular setting.

But over two visits, CTS and friends enjoy some good food and good service at (mostly) good prices.

The style is classy fast food and proper cutlery and crockery are in use, as are fine salt and pepper grinders.

 

 

There are three hot dog options on the menu, two featuring kransky or chorizo.

But the classic ($7.50) is constructed using a standard frankfurter.

So all is regulation here, but its recipient is pleased enough.

 

 

“Crispy” chicken ($9.50) has the wow factor aplenty.

The serve consists of three superbly cooked wings anointed with a tangy sauce.

Very good!

Especially when served with …

 

 

… a side of mash and gravy ($6).

This a rarity is Melbourne in general, let alone in a Sunshine shopping centre.

It’s OK, we all like it – but it’s not spectacular.

 

 

The menu’s “between the buns” section lists nothing that could be described as a beef burger, but based on our table’s orders of the cheese steak ($9, above) and …

 

 

… the only marginally different philly cheese ($9.50), this may be the way to go here.

Both are keenly priced and boast good ingredients and dressings.

The steak is thicker than routinely found in steak sandwiches and, best of all, is so well cooked that biting through for a mouthful is done with ease and without the whole sandwich falling apart.

Big thumbs up for that!

 

 

Under the heading “from the grill”, DeGrill offers dishes such as a flat iron steak ($17 and $26) and chicken ($16 for half, $29 for full).

These and others may fulfill the implied promise of more hefty meals.

Sadly, the beef short ribs ($16) do not.

It’s common knowledge ribs are expensive to secure and are inevitably at the upper end price-wise wherever they appear.

It’s common knowledge, too, the beef ribs can be fatty.

But these are very fatty indeed, and the three segments amount to not much more than a brief meal of not many more mouthfuls.

As well, as per the eatery’s name, these rib bits are grilled and not smoked, as you’d generally find at the numerous barbecue-style places across the city.

The coleslaw ($4.50) lacks crunch – maybe because its main component is savoy cabbage?

It’s under-done in the seasoning/flavour department, too, though some quick work with the salt and pepper grinders soon fixes that up.

 

 

CTS is over the mega shake thing – too often they seem to involve poor quality ingredients and unjustifiably high prices.

This DeGrill brownie shake ($9) defies both factors – good price, nice shake.

We wish DeGrill well.

Maye its arrival will inspire others to hang out their shingle in the same locale.

Thanks to Annie and Ali for helping us with this story!

Check out the DeGrill website – including full menu – here.

Phat Chicks taste good

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Julian customises his order; further back in the line, beanie-clad Josh is thinking: “Mmmmm – fried chicken!!!”

 

Phat Chicks, 549A Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 9689 3030

The arrival a specialist fried chicken eatery in West Footscray has generated spectacular interest.

Partly this has been because it’s a novelty in an area that largely – though far from exclusively – is Indian when it comes to food.

As well, there’s been a preview story in CTS and coverage in other media outlets.

Unsurprisingly, the word we heard was that Phat Chicks was extremely busy right from the moment the doors opened.

So the members of Team CTS cooled their heels for a week – and even then, six of us hit the place a couple of hours later on a Friday night than would normally be the case in hopes the rush hour would be over.

That ploy works, but only just, with boss lady Jenny squeezing us all on to a four-seater table.

Thanks!

Our crew places three separate orders – for Bennie and I, ours looks like this:

 

 

Minus drinks and the like, and ignoring for this inaugural visit the only greenery/salad available, we all end up paying about $20 each.

 

 

I’m delighted to find the thighs ($4 each) are of the bone-in variety.

These are beaut, though I suspect better is to come than the sesame soy coating we get with these.

 

 

It’s true!

I’m really impressed by our sole breast ($6.50).

Not just because of the chicken and its admirable non-dryness, but also because the ordered spicy coating is itself dry – unlike our other selections – and delivers a nice spice wallop.

 

 

Like all our chicken, these ribs ($6) are skillfully cooked, though we find there is little by way of the zing and tingle we are expecting from the vinegar part of the “salt and vinegar” coating.

 

 

Another hit!

These buffalo wings ($5) are tremendous – gloriously sopping wet with a zesty Sriracha-based sauce.

So good are they that we completely ignore the blue cheese sauce with which they are served.

(Just BTW, of the other sauces ordered by our table, we all like the pickle-infused Bear sauce very much …)

 

 

For sides, cajun fries ($6.50) and onion rings ($6.5) do us just great.

The serves are generous and the quality high.

Bennie opines that the onion rings are lacking onion flavour.

I disagree, but in any case retort: “Mate, onion rings are just an excuse to eat deep-fried batter!”

 

 

In our collective book, Phat Chicks is a great, big, phat winner.

It’s not just that it’s all about fried chicken – there’s a heap of places doing that around Melbourne.

It’s more that the range of coatings is innovative and delicious, with details such as sauces and sides also excelling.

We reckon it’ll take a few visits for us to be able to zero in on what works best for us.

The vibe during our visit has been happy and the staff members are dealing with such profound instant popularity very well.

And the wait times were briefer than I had been expecting.

As well, Phat Chicks is doing good for beer drinkers – my pint of 2 Brothers Kung Foo rice lager goes down a treat.

Phat & phunky

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Phat Chicks, 549A Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 9689 3030

Consider The Sauce loves the Indian vibe of Barkly Street in West Footscray.

We remember, profoundly, the pre-Dosa Hut, pre-Aangan days on the street when there wasn’t much at all.

It always seems surprising to us that there are those who complain about “too many Indian restaurants”.

And, shoot, it’s not like the Barkly Street precinct, or the neighbourhood in general, is ALL Indian.

However, the diversity factor is about to get a grand boost with the arrival Phat Chicks Fried Chicken, which is taking over the “right-hand side” of Thai Angels and should be open in a couple weeks.

And who better to be leading this charge than Jenny Nguyen?

She’s of Vietnamese family background, born in Hong Kong and raised in our western suburbs – how’s that for westie lineage?

Even better, Jenny is full of high-spirited charm and fun.

 

 

Bennie and I have dropped in for mid-week chat about this exciting new operation, to have a taste of Jenny’s wares and find out about the thinking behind WeFo project.

This is going to be some serious, but fun, fried chicken place – no hamburgers or sandwiches or “other” here.

And there’s no set meals, either.

Punters will customise their meals from the wonderfully simple menu (sadly not quite locked in in time to be published with this story).

The chicken will come in breast, “thunder” thighs, wings, drumsticks and “pimped up” ribs.

The overlapping range of coatings will include original, sweet chilli garlic, sesame soy, cheese, spicy, mi goreng noodles, salt n vinegar chips and chilli chips.

And, yep, those last three are created from instant noodles and crisps being given a good old pounding!

There’s a couple of salads on the list, and sides such as fries (cajun and sweet potato), onion strings and corn cheese.

 

 

We both dug these mi goreng ribs – very nice, very crunchy.

 

 

If anything, though, I loved these “original recipe” drumsticks even more – simple and delicious.

 

 

With the new wave of barbecue places and the like, we’ve tried quite a few variations of mac ‘n’ cheese in the past few years.

And, blimey, many of them have ranged from average through to horrid.

So it was a pleasure to chow down on Jenny’s rendition.

Again, there’s nothing flash or sophisticated here – just simple ingredients beautifully cooked.

Best of all, it’s plenty moist and gooey.

Jenny tells us that while she eats at Vietnamese eateries virtually every week, she wanted to do something different in the western suburbs and has always had a thing for fried chicken.

She wants her new baby to succeed but happily confesses that success, to a significant extent, will be adjudged on whether Phat Chicks becomes a place where folks look forward to going to hang out with her!

To that end, she’s also taking care of business away from the deep-frier.

There’s a couple of old-school video games in the house.

Away from the seated/eating area, is a comfy lounge set-up.

And Phat Chicks will be fully licensed.

Goodies on tap will include Hop Nation pilsner and West City Footscray Ale.

 

 

Other phun facts about Phat Chicks:

  • The bear in the restaurant logo is because Jenny’s nickname is “Bear”.
  • One English definition of the Vietnamese word “phat” is luck.

 

Highpoint fried chook

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Nene Chicken, Highpoint. Phone: 9318 2843

It’s clear that western suburbs have bought massively into Melbourne’s mania for burgers.

The fried chicken thing isn’t quite as manic and our western neighbourhoods have mostly not risen to it charms.

There’s invariably fried chook on hand at charcoal chicken shops, such as the newish Manok, but it often seems like an after-thought. We are never tempted.

There’s fried poultry at westside Korean places such as Frying Colours and Snow Tree.

But as for any joints specialising in fried chicken of the American, or southern American, tradition … well, nope.

Not so far as we know.

 

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Nene is Korean, too, but we wonder on the drive to it if maybe it’ll constitute a western suburbs fried chicken hot-spot.

The utter folly of going to Highpoint on a 40-degree weekend day less than a week before Christmas proves to be of pleasingly little consequence.

The parking situation is intense.

But once we’re inside, things in general and all the people are surprisingly cool and civilised.

The Nene menu comes with so many variables, it takes us a while to work out what we think will work for us.

Here’s how, in the end, we order:

Kimchi chicken burger (9.95 – on a milk bun with salad, onion, dressing and kimchi with bulgogi sauce.

Regular original fried chicken ($10.94) – four pieces with coleslaw and pickled radish; upsized ($4.95) with chips and a drink.

Extra drink ($3.70).

This all pans out to $29.95 for a satisfactorily sized meal for Bennie and I.

 

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Bennie’s kimchi burger is probably our repast’s highlight – it’s a refreshing change from the many kinds of beef and chook burgers we’ve had this year.

He gives it seven out of 10.

 

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The chicken turns out to be five pieces rather than four – though it must be stated these are very small pieces.

It’s good and non-greasy without being in any way notable.

Despite the small sizes, I am happy for Bennie to have a couple.

His burger was good but it lasted all of a minute.

The cubed and sweetly pickled radish is nice; the coleslaw is rubbish – dry and tasteless.

 

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The chips are fine and there’s plenty for both of us.

Nene Chicken strikes us as being just OK – and a long way short of fried chicken nirvana.

And there are several better options close by in the new Highpoint food precinct.

But it’s still better than the usual Kind of fried chicken grease-fests Found at such shopping Centres.

The chook rules

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katie1

 

Miss Katie’s at Rochester Hotel, 202 Johnston Street, Fitzroy. Phone: 9419 0166

Approaching the Rochester Hotel, my mind is full of dark thoughts.

When Consider The Sauce hit Miss Katie’s Crab Shack in its previous carnation in North Melbourne, the pervasive gloom wasn’t just a hindrance to photography – it also lessened the enjoyment of our food.

It was bit a like a food version of Dating In The Dark.

My heart sinks when I enter the bar area of the Rochester – it, too, is gloomy.

Exploring a bit further, my mood lightens when I discover the dining room “out the back” is considerably brighter.

 

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My spirits veritably soar when I receive my bloody mary ($18) as I await my friends.

It’s sensational, delicious and worth every cent of the admission price.

 

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Off we happily troop to the dining room to sort out or collective order.

We go two starters, two star-attraction mains and one light, vegetarian option.

 

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Deep-dried pickles are, initially, a surprise as I have been expecting the heavily battered discs I’ve had in New Orleans.

But these lightly-battered spears are very good.

It seems as if the cooking process has lessened the vinegar factor, as they’re mild of sourness.

 

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Crab dip is, well, very crabby.

And also very rich and yummy.

The accompanying bits and pieces -including biscuits that are more like cookies – fall a little short, however, of being substantial enough to handle all the pot of dip.

 

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I go the seafood boil.

The basic price of $25 includes a blue swimmer crab, kransky pieces, chat spuds and corn.

From there, more crab – or oysters, clams, mussels or prawns – can be added for extra $.

I go with oysters for $10.

I get only three, bathing in seasoned butter, but they’re fabulous.

The hot-dog-style kransky pieces are a highlight.

I have a splendid time extracting sweet, delicate crab meat.

But here’s the rub – despite the high quality of its individual components, my dish is lacking a knockout punch.

I suspect that could only be had, under current arrangements, by adding a lot of extra seafood that would make it prohibitively pricey.

Which means …

 

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… we reckon Miss Katie’s fried chicken ($24), which comes with either mash or waffles, is this establishment’s outstanding dish – and excellent value.

Yes, in a crab shack.

It’s a good thing, then, that one of my companions orders it.

It’s an even better thing that it is so very, very good and such a substantial portion that we all have a good taste.

The coating is light but wonderfully seasoned and the meat itself is perfect.

Could this be Melbourne’s fried chook champ? Or, more accurately, Melbourne’s non-Korean chook champ?

 

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My other pal’s hasselback potatoes with jack cheese and slaw ($15) do the trick for him, though I suspect he’s very appreciative of the couple of chicken pieces that come his way.

 

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Our finale – banana split ($12) – is enjoyable though a bit rich price-wise for an American-style fantasia that is little more than fluff.

Good stuff in a gloomy shack

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katy6

 

Miss Katie’s Crab Shack, Public Bar, 238 Victoria Street, North Melbourne. Phone: 9329 9888

On our way to Fancy Hank’s BBQ the previous week, Bennie and I had stepped in to Miss Katie’s Crab Shack just for a look-see.

It was  a toss-up in terms of our desire for American-style tucker that night, so we kept on walking to the other.

As we did so, I remarked that the Shack’s aroma reminded me of nothing so much as a typical funky local joint in New Orleans – just that magic blend of frying food and seasonings.

So I am very happy to return with pals Nat and Rob to check the place out in more depth.

As we settle in, place our orders and relax into good company, it occurs to me that also in terms of decor, general all-round vibe and attentive, unfussy service, the Shack is like a Crescent City joint in more ways than just the smell.

It’s a cool place!

 

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Unfortunately, it’s also utterly gloomy in a cheerful way – and a nightmare for “available light” photography. So take these CTS pics as an indication of only the very vaguest kind!

(An adjoining and more brightly-lit room is rapidly filling with a gang of retro-hipsters busily sharpening their minds up for Tuesday night trivia … Rob and I note that the questions are to be of topics on the “fun stuff” such as music, movies and TV, and ponder entering ourselves in the comp at some future date.)

 

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Rob likes his Chesapeake Crab Burger with blue swimmer crab cake, slaw, herb mayo and dill pickle ($15) . I don’t have a taste, but merely note that he says it reminds him of a similar set-up his mum used to produce.

 

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Nat’s jambalaya ($22) is a bit of a puzzle – for it is neither the rice dish of that name nor a gumbo, but something like a mixture of the two, soupy and with lots of rice and a couple of fat prawns among other bits and pieces.

He likes it. And based on the sample taste I grab, it certainly has the right, smoky and deep flavour.

 

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My fried chicken is definitely the big winner.

For $17, I get seven pieces, including a couple of drumsticks, meaning there is more than enough to share some with my friends.

The coating is dark and full of curiously musty, lusty flavour – I endeavour to discover the nature of the seasonings, but quickly give it up when I realise the menu describes them as a “secret blend of herbs and spices”.

I reckon I’ve heard that phrase before … but the chook meat is all good, especially lightly dabbed with the piquant house-made sauce (only one of several sitting on each table).

It’s a fine thing to order and eat beaut fried chicken that is not Korean, Japanese or franchise.

The fries ($5 with the chicken) are merely good. The menu lists them as coming with “Old Bay seasoning” but we find there’s no discernible such flavour. Still, I’m once again happy there’s more than enough for all three of us.

 

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We enjoy a couple of serves of house-baked corn bread ($3), but find its presence and sweetness mostly excess to our requirements.

Like Fancy Hank’s BBQ just up the road, Miss Katie’s Crab Shack does a fine job of providing hands-on southern-style-food. If you’re particularly hongry, it’ll cost ya – but the satisfaction factor is there.

Check out the Miss Katy’s Crab Shack website here.

 

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