As far as culinary traditions go, that of 1970s Anglo-Australia isn’t considered the greatest. But Peter De Marco – co-owner of new CBD bar, restaurant and takeaway shop Extra Chicken Salt – thinks it should be celebrated.
“We’re not leaving anything behind [from the era],” De Marco says. “We’re going to embrace it. We’re not going to be embarrassed about it, and we’re going to do it well.”
The new venue, which opened last week on the corner of Peel and Currie streets, was two years in the making. With long-time business partner Phillip Tropeano, De Marco has transformed a former convenience store into a two-storey tribute to 1970s Australia.
Creating an authentic ’70s food experience meant digging through a lot of old cookbooks. “We’ve put a lot of work into creating the most tender and moist roast chicken,” says De Marco, who's heading the kitchen alongside chefs Shane Piercy and Jack Aldridge-Kuhr. “We’re putting chickens on a rotisserie, at a real low temperature, and we’re cooking them slowly … that way we can retain all the moisture. And we’re triple-cooking our chips. It’s real simple sort of stuff [but] everything we’re doing, we’re focusing on doing really, really well."
Chicken is the centrepiece of the menu. De Marco has invested in a $70,000 French-imported rotisserie for the birds, and you can order either a half or whole chook, both of which are served with chips, jus, roast carrots, a cos salad and béarnaise. There’s also a range of banquet options, including sides (the classics such as gravy boats, peas and mashed potato), plus entrees or mains.
The French-style techniques that pervaded 1970s Australian cooking feature strongly. There’s chicken liver parfait with toast and cornichons; a duck sandwich with cherry and onion jam, mayonnaise and watercress; steamed mussels with a crème de vin reduction; and for dessert, a sticky date pudding with Chantilly cream, butterscotch and candied walnut. “We’re also bringing back things like curly parsley, all those old little garnishes, techniques that were in vogue back then,” says De Marco.
He and Tropeano have completely embraced ’70s interior design, too. Think disco balls, rattan chairs, animal-print carpets and timber. Lots of it. The space was designed by De Marco himself, with artwork on the walls provided by friend and “art-chitect” James Brown. “Everything in here is custom – even our speakers,” says De Marco. “I looked at a lot of film clips from that time, and Pinterest. And a lot of it was taking pictures of old houses.”
When Broadsheet visits, the only real anachronism is The Go-Go’s’ Our Lips Are Sealed, which is playing in the bar – a deviation De Marco is quick to point out. “I know there’s ’80s music playing right now. We’re ’80s children, really, but we’ve got times during the day when we play ’70s rock, and we dabble in a bit of everything with the tunes,” he says. “We’ve also got DJs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.”
A counter facing Currie Street acts as a takeaway shop, with a tighter menu focused on chicken and sides. At night, the bar at the back of the venue comes to life. An extensive drinks list spans wines, spirits, and cocktails (including non-alcoholic options) made with cold-brew coffee and house-made sorbettos (in flavours such as lemon, and coconut and pineapple).
Extra Chicken Salt
38 Currie Street, Adelaide