You know that smell of the take-out joints of your childhood? The same one you get when you peel back the foil from a steaming barbeque chicken? That’s what Juicy Lucy smells like. It’s a chicken shop. Not an on-trend throwback, but a real, old-school chicken shop.
“A lot of people think we're an American fried-chicken joint, but we're far from it. We're a classic Aussie chicken take-out.” Well, kind of. That’s half of it. Griff Pamment and his partner in “cocksmithery” (their word), Milan Strbac, are from Sugarcane. Although the smell and iconic bain-maries imply otherwise, it’s much more elaborate than old mate’s cornershop. The ex-Longrain duo has mixed the classic menu with the ingredients and techniques of East Asia.
“You know that awesome grilled chicken on the beach in Thailand? That's the flavour we're aiming for,” says Pamment. He’s talking about gai yang, a sticky grilled chicken popular in Southern Thailand. Here it’s marinated in coriander root, garlic, turmeric and white pepper overnight and cooked in a rotisserie. The more classic style, at least in appearance, is brined for 12 hours with Chinese spices and then dried overnight, stuffed with salty garlic rice and barbecued in the rotisserie until it’s golden brown.
The chickens come in whole, half or quarter serves with chips or salad. It’s $18 for a full bird and $6.50 for a quarter. The rest of the menu is all chicken based – sticky wings, crispy drummettes, or burgers and wraps (the burrito kind) with chicken either curried; fried with a crunchy tapioca batter; or splashed with gravy and sandwiched between a floret of chips – kind of like a poutine and gyros love child.
Pamment says in the future he’s going to go all out and serve chicken dim sims, spring rolls and something we haven’t seen in a new restaurant in years: the humble chico roll. This is the bit that’s most in keeping with the idea of the neighbourhood chicken shop. “I want people to come in and grab two chicken dimmies and a chico roll and head out.” In a way, it’s unfortunate it doesn’t look more like the milk-bar/take-out history it’s interpreting. As it stands – washed in bright-yellow paint, with a sign that riffs on fast-food iconography and with back wall covered in a manga-like mural – it doesn’t quite fit with what the place actually is. But maybe they wanted it that way.
232a Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills
(02) 8540 8726