Don’t be surprised if you feel déjà vu walking into Sunshine Social for the first time. Maybe it’s the laid-back staff, the outdoor cubby house or the smell of charcoal-roasted chicken, but somehow it feels familiar.
Western suburbs locals, Greg Fee – who opened Footscray’s steak-focused Station Hotel – and friend Gareth Crawford, have seen a change in the west over the years. Although gentrification is spreading, Fee and Crawford don’t want the area to forget its diverse roots.
That’s why they opened an Aussie barbeque joint in Sunshine West, designed to make anyone feel at home. The pair wanted a place that serves food they love to eat – food cooked over coals.
On the charcoal grill and tailor-made rotisserie you’ll see whole chickens, burgers and skewers. It’s intended as a modern twist on the barbeque tradition –so instead of pasta salad, there’s an Israeli cous-cous salad with pickled eggplant, roast capsicum, olives, and an orange pomegranate dressing. A serve of smokey kabana with mustard pickles will also bring back childhood memories, as will the dessert menu: choc ripple cake, ice-cream sangas and Frogs in a Pond.
The kitchen is only a tiny part of this enormous venue, which in the past was a petrol station, then a deli, and finally a secondhand clothing warehouse.
Now natural light floods the almost entirely white and yellow space, bar a few industrial souvenirs, like the building’s original ceiling fans, and hanging block and tackles picked up from Gumtree. The partially covered outdoor area has large park-bench and table seating, with plenty of greenery potted in oil drums.