"Umm hmm... I lurrrrve mah pie!"
I can imagine that's how Paula Deen would say it if she had a taste of this banana cream pie. (Gosh, I lurve Paula!) Good news is, we don't have to travel far to indulge ourselves in tasty Southern American because
Kansas city Jazz City Diner is only a heel-click away in Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst.
Hello child of the 90s, do you still remember Johnny Rockets? Sparkly vinyl red swivel bar stools, jukebox, posters of hollywood stars of yesteryear and the cringey performance act where chefs and waitstaffs suddenly break into Jailhouse Rock dance routine. Don't worry, you won't find any of those kitsch here at Jazz City Diner (JCD) but the built-in TVs on the wall is as good as it gets, not in your face while Nat King Cole crooning away in the background.
Formerly trained in French cooking and also spent some time working at Vue de Monde, Chef Dan McGuirt turned this tiny space in Darlinghurst into a 24-seater diner, specialises in New Orleans Southern food with a modern approach. The decor is down to earth, simple and neat, there's only so much you can do with a tiny space. While this is my first time to JCD, many die-hard locals have dined here so regularly that even Chef Dan has their names printed on golden plates and proudly displayed along the wall.
The forever chirpy Jeroxie has this mad plan of taking over the whole JCD and invited a whole pack of hungry foodbloggers to come along for a night of endless glutton indulging. Of course I am in! We rock up at JCD one night and totally rearranged all the tables in the restaurant trying to fit us all in, whilst the other diners look on, both amused and petrified by our Tetris skill.
The menu offers a huge selection of burgers, and a few Southern classics. Two Korean waitresses dressed in retro 50s pink diner outfits with name tags 'Sue Ellen' and 'Mary Ann' (okay, that's pretty kitsch and I don't think is their real names either) are super polite and waste no time to take our orders down. Bowls of chilli cheese fries are first to arrive to keep this group of rowdy food bloggers under control. Don't expect super crunchy fries, these are comforting Southern food style, soft chips smothered in spicy beef chili and a layer of melted cheese,scorched with a blowtorch. There are four of us polished the whole bowl of chips within seconds.
There is a small selection of imported beers in da house, but you simply can't come to a diner without having a milkshake, float or spider - it is a well-carbed-and-sugared-diet and elastic waist pants are our best friends tonight. Most of us go for the peanut butter malted milkshake, it is so thick that every forceful suck through the straw is hard work and makes me lightheaded, but every mouthful of rich and creamy peanut butter goodness keeps the dizziness at bay.
The shrimp corn dogs are ridiculously cute but also ridiculously expensive. Four large prawns on skewers coated with a thick layer of cornmeal batter are deep fried to an evenly golden brown, with two dipping choices of South Carolina BBQ sauce and shrimp cocktail sauce to dunk the shrimp into. It comes with a bowl of fried shrimp green salad that sadly still can't really justify the hefty price of this dish.
A couple of us got rather excited about macaroni and cheese when they spotted it on the menu and decided to order it. It arrives in a small cast iron bowl, the macaroni pasta is piping hot, covered with a layer of melted cheese and toasty breadcrumbs. The one who ordered it think is a good dish if not a little salty. "It is what it is, macaroni and cheese, nothing to rave about", that's the last comment I heard from the order-er.
A range of burgers arrive one after another and slowly taking over every inch of space at the tables. The cheeseburger is the simplest burger of the lot, between the two buns, it is the first time i see a square beef pattie, topped with cheese, onion, tomato, pickle relish, lettuce and a squeeze of mayo. All burgers come with a side of sweet potato fries, or you can request for onion rings for $3 extra.
The words 'pork belly' is hard to be dismissed, but sadly the pork belly burger fails to deliver. The burger comes with few slices of pork belly that are fatty and chewy, and topped with Boston baked beans that drips everywhere while picking the burger up makes eating it a struggle without getting messy. However, I do like the sweet potato fries that are sweet and salty, comforting and moreish.
I order Texan chilli cheese burger and go for the ultimate combo with extra toppings and fried tortilla cornchips and cumin mayonnaise, all for $3 extra. It is the biggest of the lot, the burger tower is constructed with beef pattie, chilli beef mince (the same mince used on chilli cheese fries), guacamole, jalapeno chillies, cheese, lettuce, mayo and pickled relish. And again, I find it very hard to eat with beef mince and guacamole ooze out everywhere on every bite.
And finally the most talked about dish at JCD arrives at the table, the chicken and waffle. It is a classic soul food combo in US but still a new kid on the block here down under and many still struggle to grasp the idea of putting savoury and sweet, fried chicken and waffle together. Surrounded by the old-skool French plating of tiny tricolour capsicum cubes are two glorious southern fried chicken pieces with wilted spinach resting on a Belgium waffle.
It is not crunch 'crunch', but more of a KFC 'original' batter, the chicken is tender and well cooked with great flavours of herbs and spices. There is no holding back for us by christening them with good lashing of maple syrup all over.
Even though most of us are already struggling to finish the burgers, but it aint stopping us from ordering the desserts. Good bloggers don't mind sharing food and saliva, we order all three desserts and share among four of us. The coconut cream pie is a perfect pie for coconut lovers, a crusty pie shell is filled with coconut flavoured cream custard, topped with a delightful mount of toasted meringue and a sprinkle of toasted dessicated coconut.
Then there is the banana cream pie, two layers of fresh banana are adhered together with custard caramel like building blocks, laden with whipped cream on top and a light chocolate shaving. The sweet crumb base is the highlight for me, sweet like toffee and deliciously crunchy. A squiggle of caramel sauce on plate adds that tiny extra of richness.
Whilst many bloggers are falling in love with the banana cream pie, I on the hand is well contented with the delicious pecan pie, or shall I call it the 'puhkan' pie?
There is a generous amount of pecan nuts studded in the rich caramel filling, heavily boozed with bourbon. Me like! Why stop there when you can make it even more decadent? A scoop of butter pecan ice cream on the side is ridiculously creamy and smooth.
Jazz City Diner 238 Crown Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
P: (02) 9332 2903
Lunch Tue-Sat 12pm to 2pm
Dinner Wed-Sat 6pm to 10pm
Closed Sun & Mon