Purveyor: Charing Cross Hotel, Waverly NSW, Australia
Menu Item: Fried Chicken Burger
Price: $19 AUD (+$3 for Chips/Fries)
Squawk: This pub used to be dire. Gross, dirty and full of professional drunks. So when a friend we hadn’t seen in a while suggested we meet there and that food is good, we we’re to say the least, surprised. And slightly worried about our friend. Turns out all that worry, like most worry, wasn’t worth the energy. The “Charo” has been renovated, and for the most part, very nicely. We loved the outdoor seating area, that as far as we could tell, didn’t cater to smokers who seem to have ruined outdoor seating at every other pub in Australia. We were sad when we got kicked out at 5:30pm when the outdoor area magically becomes part of their fine dining experience. Inside the thoughtful renovation continues with the highlight being a vintage game room with some great old arcade games.
But we digress. We know why you’re here and it ain’t to hear about vintage video games. The Charo’s fired chicken burger sounds good on the menu and our Waitress thoughtfully suggested we order it with bacon to which we (always) readily agree. A nice surprise was that when the burger arrived, not only was the bacon perfectly crispy, but someone in the kitchen had the brains to trim the fat off it. Seem obvious, but you’d be amazed how many places get this simple thing wrong. Another nice touch was the oversized, fresh leaf of Iceberg Lettuce which added a some additional crunch. We also appreciated the condiment shelf which had all the usual suspects along with some new sauces we hadn’t seen before from Lillie’s. They are all mostly for red meat (BBQ), but still, being the sauce aficionado’s we are (and with our Founder having gone to school in North Carolina, aka BBQ Country) it was a welcome surprise to see some new sauces on the shelf.
Buaawk: First the burger: The roll was way too sweet, more like a marshmallow than a brioche. We like sweet buns on our women, not our burgers, and this one bummed us out. The chicken was fried thigh meat and was supremely neutral in flavour, texture and appearance. There’s no special attention here to the batter or spices and its a major flaw. Also the portion of meat was on the small side, and there wasn’t enough bird to fill the bun. We later discovered this wasn’t always the case as a late arrival’s burger was much better proportioned. So they lose points for inconsistency.
Now the venue. While the new renovation is great, two things bring it down. One is the noise. Even with the few acoustic tiles in the ceiling the place is annoying loud which turns mealtime conversation with friends into a shouting match. Add in the multiple TV’s and plethora of wobbly, aforementioned, professional (loud mouthed) drunks and it almost makes us not want to come back. The second thing is the staff. Jeez, they act like they’re doing you a huge favour when you order. Anything. Get over yourselves.
Bonus Points: Beer selection, vintage game room, nice renovation to what used to be a crap pub.