Cooking chicken on the beach is picturesque, but it definitely has its challenges. “We put the spits outside and it went nuts,” says Stuart Brookshaw, who last year ran a Henrietta’s Chicken pop-up in Queenscliff. “We had a view over the heads of Port Philip Bay, but controlling chicken with a south-easterly coming in wasn’t easy.”
Thankfully, Henrietta’s has a permanent weatherproof kitchen in which to rotate its chickens. The Fulham Place site (it’s just down the lane from Huxtaburger) is one-part restaurant, one-part local chicken joint. Decked out with reclaimed pallets, rustic metal lampshades and a touch of faux-forestry, the 91-seat venue is casual. “It’s about creating a little oasis, somewhere with a bit of calmness inside the city,” says Brookshaw. “We want people to come and hang out, really. And chicken is a bonus.”
The project is a partnership between Stuart Brookshaw and Ruth Giffney, both formerly of Albert St Food and Wine; chef Daniel Morgan (previously of The Fat Duck); and restaurateur Tim Hocks. With their collective background in fine dining the team wanted to do restaurant-quality fare in a very casual environment. “We wanted that extra bit of quality,” says Brookshaw. “It comes down to the dressing, the quality of the produce and the way it’s treated.”
That quality is demonstrated primarily in Henrietta’s charcoal chicken, which is injection brined, rubbed with lemon myrtle and native peppercorns, and cooked over Mallee Root from the Grampians. Deep-fried wings are soaked in buttermilk and the venue’s entry-level bird is accredited free-range Bannockburn chicken. A little extra investment will get you an organic Milawa chook. Henrietta’s also works with rare-breeders at Milking Yard Farms in Trentham to source some top-end Sunderland birds.
And, like your standard-issue chicken shop, Henrietta’s serves potato salad and coleslaw. The potato salad is dressed with herby dijonnaise and dried shallots, and the coleslaw in red-wine vinaigrette and sugar-soaked currants. A chicken roll is served with house-made gravy. Corn on the cob is served with coriander, paprika and Manchego.
A pithy cocktail list, designed by John Chalker, includes Lemon Myrtle Iced Tea and Lemon Barley water. The wine and beer lists are exclusively Victorian.
The Henrietta’s team is already looking for a second north-side site, potentially in Brunswick. The goal is to open by the end of the year. It is also all systems go on pop-ups in Dubai and Montreal.
Henrietta’s Chicken Shop and Bar
Shop 7, Fulham Place, Melbourne
(03) 9629 7886
Mon to Sat 11am–10pm