For a Manhattan-style steakhouse, descend from King Street in Sydney’s CBD to The Gidley where you’re ushered from the clubby bar into a plush, moody dining room straight out of a Scorsese film, all down-lighting and velvet-covered booths and banquettes.
Rib-eye on the bone grilled over bark and charcoal is ordered by the 100g, while boneless rib-eye chop is smoked with bourbon and cherry bark. Pair your choice of cut with a side of mac and cheese or thick-cut bacon for the committed carnivores. And you’d be mad not to start with Sydney’s best prawn cocktail, the plump stars of the show glamorously lounging in a stemmed parfait glass.
At Sydney’s NOLA – that’s New Orleans, Louisiana – a smokehouse and American whiskey bar in Barangaroo, the southern likes of cornbread with whipped honey butter and a pitmaster’s pick of barbecued meats are served alongside a whopping list of American hooch. The list of bourbons alone runs to five pages, and the array of rye and other American whiskies is equally impressive. Enjoy them neatly or on the rocks, or dip into cocktails such as the New Orleans classic Sazerac.
No survey of American food is complete without fried chicken, and in Australia, there’s a standout. Belles Hot Chicken first opened in Melbourne’s Fitzroy in 2014. At this retro-style diner, chef Morgan McGlone drew on his experience at Nashville’s acclaimed Husk restaurant to bring locals a taste of the fiery southern standard. Whether you go for two pounds of wings, say, or a platter of drumsticks with potato and gravy, a substantial list of top drinks is on hand to quench the fire, though you get a choice of heat on the Nashville scale from spicy to knock your socks off. Such was the popularity of the original there’s another in the CBD and two outposts in Sydney.
There’s more to American food, though than steak and fried birds. Louisiana Redclaw in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley taps into the Cajun tradition of spiced seafood. Here, take your pick of seafood, then choose your sauce – the secret Signature Zing, perhaps, or the tangy Buff – and your heat level, add sides such as beer-battered chips or traditional slaw and you’ve got yourself a Louisiana-inspired meal. Other southern classics include clam chowder in a cob loaf and crab mac and cheese.
It’s all smoking, as they say Stateside.
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