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Sydney’s best late night chicken shop is here
Thirsty Bird is no ordinary chicken shop. It's a simple fit out, five stools set against a wooden bench, an open kitchen ringing with satisfying, sizzling noises. It’s more of a takeaway than a restaurant (those stools are super uncomfortable) and this food is so messy, you want to eat it in private. Trust us.
It's from the guys behind Mr Crackles on Oxford Street, so these folks know how to do late night food. And boy, do they know how to fry a chicken. The coating is plentiful, dry and crisp without being greasy, and the chicken meat within is tender and juicy. It's tenderness that only comes from meat that's spent a good, long sabbatical in brine (24-hours followed by an air-dry for a further 24-hours before battering, to be precise). We’d go as far to say this is better than Belle's, so screw you Melbourne.
Try the meal deal – when we visit you get two pieces of fried chicken (the cuts are up to them) with some pickles, one side and one sauce. The side of mash and gravy is pure comfort fare, smooth potato topped with chicken-rich gravy and little shards of chicken 'crackling' (i.e. skin), which were sadly a little soggy by the time they get to us. You can’t walk past the South’s favourite side – why is mac and cheese so damn perfect with fried chicken? Here it’s spiked with bacon and topped with crisp breadcrumbs, is faintly cheesy and the sauce is nice and loose. The slaw is a strong competitor: with super-finely sliced cabbage and Spanish onions in a silky buttermilk dressing, this ain’t just for the healthies. If that’s not for you, there are always waffle fries.
Try the house-made roast chilli sauce to go with – it’s firey hot and not too sweet. The barbeque sauce is also worth a shot, or there’s ranch or (barely spicy) chilli aioli for those who want to up the mayo stakes.
Speaking of mayo, don’t bother with the Yankee burger – although the grilled chicken is oh-so-tender, and we’re never going to turn down bacon and pickles in a sanger, there is just way too much mayo. Stick with the deep fried chook instead.
This place is cheap as. A whole chicken jointed into eight pieces, with two sauces and pickles is $25 the night we’re in. It’s a lot of food, but it comes at a cost: they tell us it's RSPCA-approved, but it’s not free-range. We reckon they could easily charge $28 a chook and up their karma, but RSPCA-approved is better than most.
Aside from that, this place is great. The fried chicken is the best tasting takeaway hen we’ve had in Sydney. And God knows the Cross needs some new late night eateries (Thirsty Bird is open until 3am on weekends). Fingers crossed the lockout laws don’t make it impossible for them to make a trade.
Shop 3, 2-14 Bayswater Rd
|Opening hours:||Mon-Tue 5-10.30pm; Wed-Thu 11.30am-10.30pm; Fri 11.30am-1.30am; Sat 11.30am-3am; Sun 11.30am-10.30pm|