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Fried chicken. Smoked meat. Good booze. Even better times. Owner/chef Ben Atkinson (ex-The Old Crow, Cantina 663) keeps it simple at Meat Candy, which owes as much to the golden, spicy fried chicken of Nashville, Tennessee as it does to Australian milk bars and diners circa 1970.
Drumsticks, bone-in thighs and tenderloins from Liberty Free Range Chicken are marinated for 24 hours in a mix of buttermilk and house-made hot sauce before being double-dredged in seasoned flour. The chicken is cooked in a Henny Penny pressure fryer to keep the meat juicy within and crisp and golden without. In keeping with Nashville tradition, all chicken is served on house-baked white bread alongside pickles, shaved onion ranch sauce and a choice of sides. There’s a pleasant buzz to the entry-level “southern” chicken, although chilli fiends can specify mild, hot and “you’re an idiot” heat levels. (The latter features four separate stages of spicing: consider yourself warned).
Smoked meats make up the rest of the well-priced menu (nothing tops the $20 mark), while the offering also tips the Akubra to Australian food traditions. “Auntie Merle’s broccoli coleslaw” is pure Country Women’s Association (CWA) cooking.
In the bar, experienced drink-slinger Patrick Carpenter (El Publico, Late Night Valentine, Angel’s Cut by the Trustee) continues the diner vibe with a range of house-made sodas; and cocktail pitchers such as Bloody Mary and Woody Island Iced Tea, an all-WA riff on Long Island’s famous party-starter featuring botanicals gathered from Woody Island off Esperance.