Imagine the quintessential ‘50s American diner. Then strip the booths and chequered floors and replace them with modern restaurant out of Venice Beach. That’s Paradise Road Diner, the first Sydney restaurant from David Owen (ex restaurant manager at Icebergs) and Gaudi Diaz (Italian at the Pacific, Byron Bay).
True to American diner culture, the newest addition to North Bondi’s burgeoning Campbell Parade strip is casual in menu, price and design. Owen says when he and Diaz found the space they rummaged through their list of ideas and landed on American diner after considering what would fit the local community. “We had one of those nights. You have a couple of bottles of wine and you're like, ‘Oh yeah what about this’, 'greatest idea in the world mate'.”
The classic burgers are in the sloppy-soft style inspired by American fast-food giants such as Shake Shack. Owen’s most proud of the Cowboy, with a surprisingly sturdy stack of crispy onion rings, smoked bacon and Paradise Road BBQ sauce. The other burgers are rounded out by Southern-style fried chicken, glazed pork rib and pumpkin.
The rest of the short menu features just four mains, including a sweet waffle slab topped by fried chicken; Texas chilli; and beef brisket served by the gram. The latter is slow cooked after a long bath in a marinade based on a not-so-secret special ingredient – Dr Pepper. Owen says because Dr Pepper already contains mainly great marinade ingredients such as cloves, sugar and cinnamon, it makes for an excellent beef glaze. The final product comes ludicrously soft with large pickle swords and buns of homemade corn bread. Owen insists on getting a side of slaw; stuff it inside the corn bread with some meat and chilli sauce for a DIY corn-brisket slider.
Until the license is approved those beef slabs and burgers come with floats or shakes. Don’t expect any doughnut-topped glass jars, though; these milkshakes are as classic as they come, just chocolate, strawberry or vanilla malt served in proper metal cups.
Breakfast is equally American with waffles, diner-style omelettes, corned-beef hash and bagels from The Bagel Shop. It feels like it has been designed for families; it’s simple, sweet and easy. “We want people to be able to come a few times a week. I want my friends to be able to come in and not have to blow the budget.”