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  1. People enjoying food at Derrel's
    Photograph: Michael Naumoff
  2. A plate of chicken at at Derrel's
    Photograph: Michael Naumoff
  3. The team standing out the front of Derrel's
    Photograph: Michael Naumoff
  4. A plate of chicken, chips and salad at at Derrel's
    Photograph: Michael Naumoff

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

With chip butties doused in butter chicken gravy, kitsch decor, top-notch curries and BYO booze, there’s a lot of fun and delicious eating to be had at Derrel's

It’s early on a Wednesday night and it’s absolutely pouring with rain. Two factors I hope will deter people like repellent and allow me to secure a hot seat at Derrel’s, Parramatta Road’s new late-night Indian diner, next to The Lady Hampshire. Though one peep through the turmeric- and paprika-coloured plastic curtains tells me: fat chance. The place is packed. I spot a few spare seats in the middle of the cafeteria-like shared tables, so just like a cat we pounce.

Derrel’s is named after Brendan King’s grandfather, Derrel. The young chef says his nanna never cooked while he was growing up, and instead he remembers Derrel in the kitchen, preparing spiced tandoori wings and kick-arse pork vindaloo. King went on to sharpen his knife skills at Baba’s Place in Marrickville, a venue that’s big on celebrating Sydney’s suburban multicultural cuisine. The fact that this casual, colourful eatery is an ode to his grandfather, and inspired by his time growing up in an Anglo-Indian household, feels like a natural, delicious progression. (Derrel’s is a joint effort between Public Hospitality and Baba’s Place Creative.)

Inside, marigold garlands hang from the walls alongside a framed Roy Keane Manchester United Jersey and old family photos. There’s a pink counter at the back with a bain-marie stocked with curries to grab and go. The dark-brown chairs look retro and cheap, and that’s probably the point. A television is playing one of the greatest films of all time: Bend It Like Beckham. It’s a kitsch, brightly lit delight. (Read: too bright for a first date.)

The menus are printed on Woman’s Weekly covers from the ’80s, and you order at the counter. Next to us, a handful of uni-goers are getting stuck into a ‘chip putty’ (a play on the beloved British chip butty), featuring a white roll stuffed with piping-hot chips doused in butter chicken gravy.

We start with samosas, which arrive standing tall and looking like mini pyramids. The golden pastry is sturdy and crisp, and the potato and pea filling is fragrant with fennel, coriander seeds and a hint of chilli, and yum paired with a sweet and tangy tamarind chutney and creamy yoghurt.

We also order a plate of chips with a white ramekin of butter chicken gravy. It’s thick and smoky with a great depth of flavour, and not overly sweet like the one from my local takeaway joint. Chips dipped in butter chicken sauce? Genius.

I go for the half tandoor chicken plate, which arrives on a pale blue divided plate, like the ones you got on school camp, but cooler. The charred chicken is covered in butter chicken gravy with more chips, so I’m starting to regret my earlier snack action, but here we are. There’s a nice smokiness to the meat and it’s succulent. The stand-out for me though is a crunchy, cool and zippy cucumber and tomato salad, jazzed up with cumin seeds, coriander, fresh lime and delicate rings of shallots. My only gripe is that instead of the coriander chutney that’s on the menu, I get a dollop of mintish yoghurt – but as I start eating, the thought flits away as fast as Beckham's feet. It’s all good stuff.

Derrel’s ‘Tandoori Zinger Burger’ is a fine riff on Colonel Sanders’ one, and even better washed down with a chilled beer from across the road (Derrel’s doesn’t sell booze, but it’s BYO). The bun is as soft as a pillow, with shredded iceberg lettuce and a garlicky sauce, and the fried chicken is bronzed, crunchy and amped up with a good whack of spices and chilli. It’s not the biggest burger in town, but it’s tasty.

There’s a vindaloo on the menu, and today it’s made with lamb, so we choose that. It comes with turmeric-laced rice the colour of melted butter, roti paratha, coriander chutney (which is more of a sauce) and lime. It’s not as sharp or fiery as the ones I devoured on the palm fringed-beaches in Goa – it’s missing a splash of vinegar, and more chilli – but the flavour is good, the meat is incredibly tender, and the flaky roti is textbook.

We’re toying with getting another bottle of wine from across the road when a member of the waitstaff team taps me on the shoulder to let me know they will need the table in ten minutes. No worries, we’ll be back another time.

Derrel’s is open until 1am on the weekends, so if you're hungry post-gig and have a hankering for hot chips and butter chicken gravy, you know where to head. If not, come early, grab a chilled white from the bottle-o and go to town. I reckon Derrel would be chuffed. And with reasonable prices, a fun vibe and delicious plates, you will be, too.

Time Out Sydney never writes starred reviews from hosted experiences – Time Out covers restaurant and bar bills for reviews so that readers can trust our critique.

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Avril Treasure
Written by
Avril Treasure


89 Parramatta Rd
View Website
Opening hours:
Wed-Thu 5pm-midnight; Fri-Sat 5pm-1am; Sun 5pm-midnight
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