Sydney’s gourmet-fast-food scene is exploding. The traditional power base of Thai delivery and international conglomerates is being shoved aside by a new school of talented chefs pushing their own style of burgers, fried chicken and culturally repurposed street food. The latest is Thirsty Bird, a take-out that serves American-South style chicken from Sam Horowitz, the co-creator and chef at Oxford Street’s late-night, pork eatery, Mr Crackles.
“I've been travelling around the world. You notice that every country has three, four or five fried-chicken franchises and Australia is the only one that has just KFC,” says Horowitz. His original plan was to do it in a bar, but he decided on take-away so the brand could expand faster. But considering the effort he's spent opening the first outlet, Horowitz admits it might be a while before we see a second. "Fried chicken is a lot more complicated than I thought. Different flours, different temperatures, timing and the size of the chicken is very complicated,” he says. “It took us a while to perfect the recipe.”
The inaugural shop does have some seating space, five stools to be exact, which are all squeezed into the shop’s front bar. Otherwise there’s just a see-through counter with a production line of hurried chefs and a black-board selling waffle chips, chicken burgers and fried chicken by piece.
The fried chicken is among the most thickly battered in Sydney. Fans of American South-style chicken will love it; it’s salty, classically spiced and retains its crunch for an impressively long amount of time post-fry. “It’s buttermilk based,” says Horowitz. “We brine it for a day, dry it out in the cool room for 12–24 hours. Then we batter it, buttermilk it, and batter it again.”
The same style is available with slaw in a burger wrapped by soft-millk buns from Barby’s, Chinatown (like a smaller version of Breadtop). Otherwise the juicy chook is prepped katsu-style in a burger with Kewpie mayonnaise and cabbage; grilled in a club sandwich with BLT or it replaces beef in a classic American burger. It can all come with sides of particularly creamy variety of coleslaw; mac'n'cheese; mash and gravy; or waffle fries.
Shop 3, 2–14 Bayswater Road, Potts Point
(02) 8937 4672
Tue to Thu and Sun 5.30pm–11pm