North American

Kickin’ Inn – Petersham NSW Restaurant Review

In February 2020, before the world knew just how bad the COVID-19 pandemic would be, a Kiwi friend of ours suggested HOUSE OF CRAB. Unfortunately we never made it there – it closed in March due to the pandemic – but we did manage to eat at Kickin’ Inn, a restaurant with a very similar concept.

Kickin’ Inn offers a wide array of seafood which is boiled in sauce and delivered to the table in a plastic bag.. Aside from seafood, Kickin’ Inn also offers a small range of vegetable and chicken based sides. While Kickin’ Inn officially bills itself as halal, I’ve recently come to discover that there are varying types of halal and when my Egyptian colleague called the Lebanese owner to ask he found that it was insufficiently halal for his needs. We will need to catch up with him later at a venue of his choosing.

The service experience was generally fine but a bit odd to start. I was the first to arrive at the restaurant, and not 2 minutes into having taken a seat and been given the menu I was asked if I was ready to order. They knew that I was waiting for 5 others but continued to ask us three times throughout the next fifteen minutes our party slowly filtered in.

It was only when we told them that yes, we were ready to order, that they offered to explain the menu to us. I’ve read similar accounts of this extremely strange experience elsewhere online – it certainly makes more sense to me to explain the menu choices before asking if we were ready to order.

L: Whole lobster, R: Moreton Bay Bugs

While the majority of customers ask for the plastic bag to be emptied directly onto the table (covered in a single-use paper sheet), my colleagues shied away from this and ate directly from their plastic bags in black BDSM style gloves.

I had the Moreton Bay Bugs (8 small halves for $39.95) in Sha-Bang sauce (a mixture of Kajun, Garlic Kajun, Garlic Butter and Lemon Pepper sauces) with a mild spice. The bugs were quite small and not very meaty, but the taste and experience of eating food off a table in gloves and a bib was quite a novel one. While each individual bug was not meaty, the combination of 4 bugs did end up being sufficient for an adult meal.

One thing I will mention is that each time our bugs were served (we had 3 servings for the table) we were told that they were scampi. Because of this, as well as the offer to explain the menu once we were ready to order, I didn’t really get the feeling that the guys who worked at Kickin’ Inn really knew or understood what was going on. Especially as we were told that there would be no scampi available that evening.

My colleagues who had the whole lobster with corn and potato ($49.95), served on the elusive “plate” enjoyed their meals too.

I didn’t realise just how huge the Kickin’ Shrimp Martini ($34.95) would be. It is a giant glass bowl of 15 crumbed and fried prawns in Kickin’s special sauce (read: sweet chilli) atop a bed of hot chips and garden salad. I regret getting this. The prawns didn’t taste like they were great quality, and were a bit bitter as they cooled down. The sauce all collected at the bottom of the glass, which meant that the chips and salad at the bottom got very soggy and tasty. I’m lucky I was able to share this with my colleagues, and I would not get it again.

Quirks of service aside, Kickin’ Inn was OK. The serving sizes of the seafood boil was a bit ambiguous and I think that having minimum weights and prices per kg would’ve gone a long way. It just felt too risky to order a “cluster” of snow crab for $54.95 without any indication of how much that could be.

I’m still undecided as to if I will ever go back to Kickin’ Inn. It was an expensive seafoody meal, and I doubt my girlfriend would eve go with me.

4/5 – offers a special experience not found elsewhere

Kickin’ Inn Petersham
82-86 New Canterbury Rd, Petersham NSW 2049
(02) 8668 5857

North American

Surly’s American Tavern – Surry Hills NSW Restaurant Review

We woke up to news of a Biden-Harris victory and then spent lunch at Surly’s American Tavern, an American themed pub and restaurant in Surry Hills, seeing off our favourite Kiwi anaesthetic colleague back across the pond.

sweet potato chips with poutine topping

The sweet potato chips with poutine topping ($14) was good. The sweet potato chips were crisp, despite being drowned in a fully adequate helping of gravy. The cheese curds were soft and not too hot.

BBQ Platter

The BBQ Platter ($45) was ordered as a result of my indecision. There were so many meats that I wanted to try, but so little time. It consisted of 18 hour dry rubbed beef brisket, 12 hour pulled pork, Smoked chicken thigh, Texas hot link sausage, and smoked chicken wings with pickles, onion and corn bread.

The beef brisket was not bad, quite moist.
The pulled pork was not exciting at all.
The smoked chicken thigh was nice, and it was nice that it was skin on
The Texas hot link sausage was quite tasty, good.
The smoked chicken wing I could’ve lived without – it would’ve been better as a normal wing.
I didn’t eat the corn bread. It gave me too many flashbacks to the weird frozen cornbread delivered from Third Wave Cafe in Melbourne.
The pickles were fresh and tangy and good.
The coleslaw was actually really good.
Chips were fresh.

Seatings are timed for 2 hour intervals
News coverage of Joe Biden’s presidential win was being played throughout our entire stay there.

Surly’s American Tavern
182 Campbell St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
02) 9331 3705

Surly's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

North American

Belle’s Hot Chicken – Darling Square Haymarket NSW Restaurant Review

Masterful inactivity is a skill to be lauded in the intensive care setting. When you’re in a mixed HDU/ICU environment surrounded by both sick patients and not-so-sick patients it’s important to know when to do the invasive, expensive investigations and treatments and when to just sit back and watch.

The same is not true for deciding where to eat for dinner. I was paralysed with indecision last night, presented with three choices of which I could only choose one. It was my partner who took the reins and decided Belle’s Hot Chicken, the restaurant that we had originally set out for at the start of the night but had baulked at when the notion of having to wait in a queue for a table was raised.

We parked in Wilson Parking (Darling Square – Zollner Circuit), which is only $5 for weeknights and weekends. It’s a bit cramped, especially on a weekend, compared to the nearby Darling Quarter parking, however is very close to Darling Square with no walk required. Discovering pre-booked paid parking in the city actually changed my outlook to dining in the city completely. For the longest time I had completely avoided going into the CBD, afraid of having to navigate one way roads and find difficult parking. Now with Wilson Parking I don’t have to worry. I know I may sound like a paid shill for Wilson (and I wish I were – I have introduced a number of colleagues to them) but I really am not. I am also very against Wilson Security’s alleged role in spying on Senator Sarah Hanon-Young in Nauru back in 2015, but a cheap park is a cheap park.

We had the 3 wings with fries ($16), medium heat to cater for my girlfriend’s tastebuds. I thought that the fries were fresh and tasty, however the large wings were a bit difficult to eat. The wings, for reference, consisted of both a small drumstick, the normal wing piece, and the wing tip. The chicken itself was quite moist and tasty, however medium is definitely not spicy enough for me – if you look at it it’s really the 2nd weakest rating out of 6 or 7 different spice levels. I also thought that this combo was a bit steep in price. The wings also came with plenty of pickles.

To satisfy our curiosity for what other parts of the chicken tasted like, we also ordered a single drumstick for $4 – flavoured in hot. This also came with some pickles and white bread. I enjoyed the drumstick more than the wing, which is somewhat of an anomaly for me. I found the drumstick moist and juicy, and the hot spice setting was better than the medium setting. My partner didn’t like the drumstick as much – she found it drier than the wings – but I respectfully disagree.

The Belle’s Wild Wings (3 for $5 or 8 for $11) were stars of the show. They come in Southern, Maple Butter, or “Fuck COVID” seasoning levels, and we had Southern. The “Fuck COVID” spice level is apparently very high, a choice which I must question given the propensity for very spicy foods to induce coughing and other aerosol generating reflexes. The wings themselves were excellent, similar to the other pieces of chicken. I find that the mid-wing is my favourite type of wing, and think that 8 for $11 is just excellent value.

The Sauces (3 for $5) were nothing to write home about. The hot sauce was very similar to Frank’s Red Hot sauce. The Mississippi comeback was good, the blue cheese was fine. I am a bit sad t hat there was no free sauce offered, however I didn’t really think that sauce was required, come to think of it.

The Belle’s Chicken Sandwich ($13) was moist and juicy. The mayo-style sauce, lettuce, pickles and cheese really added a fresh taste to the moist thigh chicken . This was my partner’s top pick of the meal and I can also recommend it. It’s not very spicy and I don’t know if you could for it to be made spicier if you wanted it to be that way.

The Belles Spritz ($13) is a mix of aperol and pet nat. It’s fine.

Overall I did enjoy Belle’s Hot Chicken. My partner still thinks that Thirsty Bird is better, but I really liked the spiciness of Belle’s. I’d like to come back, and get everything with at least the fourth level of spiciness.

One other slight digression I will make is a complaint about the lack of sink-space. Fried chicken is a very hands-on meal, and I think that, especially in the current COVID-19 environment, that it would not just be handy but even compulsory to have some kind of handwashing station available. I understand that there are not toilets available inside – there are some available elsewhere in the Darling Square complex – but a lack of handwashing facilities is in my opinion unacceptable. While 3 wet wipes were available for the table, I think that a sink would have gone a long way – both in the pre and the post consumption phases.

4/5. 4.5/5 if sink available.