Rockwell and Sons Master Class

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It is a rare opportunity when one of your favorite restaurants offers to let you behind the curtain and peek inside the deep fryer. So brought our friend Robyn and we jumped at the chance to spend the evening with Casey Wall watching how the chicken is cut, brined, marinated in buttermilk, dredged and fried. The whole cooking class was arranged by our new friend The Hospitality Widow (check out her blog: http://www.thehospitalitywidow.com/)

The Chick made the mistake of coming hungry, and the buttermilk biscuits were already in the oven and the smell wafted around the restaurant, making it hard to concentrate on the lesson at hand. But Casey was compelling in the way that experts in their environment are. He deftly took a 1Kg chicken and turned it into 8 pieces destined for the fryer. He spoke of using the extra bits for stock (“never buy stock!”) and to be sure to cut the medallion of meat between the breast and the thigh (“don’t trust a butcher who doesn’t take the time to cut the medallion, if he can’t be bothered with that, how clean can his shop be?”).

We learned how to make a spicy brine: use the lemon peel, but not the juice.
We learned that buttermilk should come from the Butter Factory, not the supermarket.
We learned to add a bit of flour into the marinade for the second round: giving it that double-coated effect.
We learned that the dredging flour mix is best when it is a little “dirty” but not too much. So the first pieces will need a second dunk in the buttermilk to get the right kind of coating.

We learned that the best Fried Chicken he knows of is pan fried by an old woman in North Carolina, and you have to get there by 10:30 if you want to get some lunch. She takes her time, and that’s the idea. You can’t rush perfection.

Finally, we learned that Fried Chicken is a sometimes food, even in the South. Which is why he only prepares them on Wednesdays; to keep them special, just the way he learned growing up in North Carolina.

Hollywood and The Chick enjoyed discovering the hot sauce bottle (oddly absent from normal Wednesday servings) and devoured the biscuit, chicken and coleslaw. We even went back for seconds and The Chick was thrilled to take home the leftovers in aluminum foil. Yes, the flavors get better with a bit of time in the fridge, and while they aren’t crispy anymore, the spice comes through for a tasty lunch.

Hollywood’s Rating: 8.5/10

The Chick’s Rating: 9/10

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Rockwell and Sons – Round 2 (Not so nirvana)

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Hollywood and The Chick rallied the foodie troops and invaded Rockwell and Sons in hopes of witnessing Melbourne Fried Chicken nirvana. There were chefs and experts from around the world waiting to sample one of the best southern fried chicken dishes of Melbourne.

The order was pretty much the same exact order as last time which included two full orders of the golden chooks accompanied with deviled eggs, mac-n-cheese, and a side order of the brussel sprouts, beetroot salad and the ribs. The reliable broccoli with sultanas was on holiday, a well prepared cauliflower dish took its place.

We didn’t hit chicken nirvana this time. The chicken was good but not the amazesauce it was last time, maybe it was all the hype that led to our disappointment. All of us generally felt that the chicken seemed of a poorer quality and a bit more greasy. Another suggestion from our guests was it was lacking a dipping sauce (or possibly mashed potatoes) to add extra flavor. The Chick was always a fan of the spicy dipping sauces at other places.

Bottom line is this experience was not close to chicken nirvana and although the chicken was not sweet but being right certainly was for Hollywood. Our search for the best fried cluckers Melbourne has to offer continues, perhaps we’ll know more after our lesson from the Rockwell and Sons chef this week.

Hollywood’s Rating: 8/10 Clucks

The Chick’s Rating: 7/10 Clucks

The Chick’s new fancy camera takes some getting used to, so while some of these shots came out great, others were far too fuzzy to be included. Next purchase: macro lens.

So Golden...

So Golden…

KFC Style biscuit

KFC Style biscuit

Another perspective on the mountain of golden friend morsels

Another perspective on the mountain of golden friend morsels

Balanced meal

Balanced meal

Can never go wrong with mac n' cheese, especially with extra cheese on top

Can never go wrong with mac n’ cheese, especially with extra cheese on top

Crunchy slaw, not too much dressing

Crunchy slaw, not too much dressing

Brussel sprouts fried to within an inch of their lives

Brussel sprouts fried to within an inch of their lives

Sweet Ribs

Sweet Ribs

Ravaged Drumstick

Ravaged Drumstick

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Jazz City Milk Bar – Round 2

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The Chick was up in sunny Sydney for work and Hollywood swung by to join in on some good ol Sydney fried chicken and see how it compared to our beloved Melbourne Fried Chicken.

We ended up visiting the same joint, Jazz City Milk Bar, after being informed that their Diner was closed. We had been attempting to go and experience their new BBQ grill, which was under construction last time. We missed our chance, but it was a fine excuse to enjoy the savory options at the Milk Bar.

We ordered the Texas Chilli Burger gone ultimate, southern fried chicken and waffles and The Chick’s favourite soul food; mac-n-cheese. Hollywood tried for the German Chocolate cake, then the banana cream pie, when both options were out he ended up with a chocolate pecan pie. As with all the other dishes this was packed with flavor and high fat goodness.

The service was oddly lackluster, with three waitresses standing behind the counter chatting and on the phone until we managed to catch their attention. But Jazz City delivered on the stuff that matters and it was purely amazing. Check out the photos of our revisit below (can you tell the Chick invested in a new camera?).

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The Belly of the B.East

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There was a heated argument brewing between Hollywood and The Chick about the future of the chicken scene. This began shortly after experiencing chicken nirvana at Rockwell and Sons. The Chick’s argument was that there’s no point in continuing the Melbourne Fried Chicken hunt since they found the number one golden chooks. Hollywood however thought there are many feathered adventures in their future and was determined to leave no chicken unclucked.

After lots of discussion, the Chick consented to another round, and accompanied with friend of the blog The Jasonator, head over into the belly of the B.East for their next Melbourne Fried Chicken adventure. The Chick hates being right about these things.

The place had a cool northern suburb funky bar vibe. The B.East’s big hype was their Beast burger standing huge with three burger patties and six bacon rashers with a challenge of eating it in less than 3 minutes to be inducted into their wall of fame.

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We ordered the Beast with fries, jalapeño poppers, 2 serves of southern fried chicken (as we were informed each serve consists of only 2 pieces) and a slaw salad in addition to beers and the Bloody Sunday special cocktail: Italian Bloody Mary.

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The Bloody Mary came out first and it was exotic, very cool and tasty. The best description is that it was like a liquid pizza pie, including a dusting of parmesan.

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The poppers, chicken and slaw arrived all together. The poppers were disappointing as they were a bit crunchier than expected and the cheesy and spicy flavours that you would expect weren’t prominent. The slaw was average and the chicken was the biggest disappointment of all. It was hot but seemed very greasy, flavorless, and lacked any spices. The chicken meat seemed mushy somehow and fell off the bone in a less than appetizing way. This was a total miss! Maybe Sunday nights aren’t the best for a fresh chook.

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The Beast burger was very juicy and meaty which sat well with us. The meat did seem overwhelming at certain moments but overall sat very well with Hollywood and he reckons he could definitely smash it in less than 3 minutes but that might be a different mission (without the Chick wondering at the point).

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Overall the B.east is a fun bar to go to but the chicken is definitely not a dish to be had there. This confirmed The Chick’s earlier point and although Hollywood still had high hopes for Melbourne’s clucks the “I told you so” look he copped might’ve been well deserved.
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Hollywood’s Rating: 4.5/10 Clucks
The Chick’s Rating: 4/10 Clucks

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