*Fried chicken, girls in underwear and a 70 strong sneaker collection in the window? It's not a sneaker shop. It's the latest place in Surry Hills that serves fried chicken (in four levels of spice up to "Hot AF") served in a sneaker shoebox. Along with champagne. It all makes sense once you're there... *
"Does the chicken box have breasts...and thighs?" asks Nick to the waitress suggestively.
"Oh jeez, don't be so gross!" we say trying to calm him down. He's referring to a box of fried chicken but his mind is never far away from women. You see the poor guy has just recovered from the fact that the waitresses at Butter in Surry Hills are not wearing Victoria's Secret lingerie, as the Butter website shows. ("What?!!" says Nick in either mock or real outrage, it's hard to tell).
The theme at Butter is sneakers and models. It's a bit like the Robin Thicke Blurred Lines video in here with an elevator covered with a picture of a woman holding fried chicken fillets over her breasts and the menu is adorned with a girl in a midriff, underpants and sneakers. It's the latest venture from the team behind Thievery in Glebe. The chef is 2015 Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year, Julian Cincotta formerly of Nomad and Rockpool.
There are no bookings taken for this 40 seater and the wait is anything from 15 minutes to half an hour (or possibly even more on Friday and Saturday nights). Mr NQN, Louise, Viggo, Nick and I wait for 30 minutes in the queue staring at the 70 sneakers in the window and at the guests inside eating fried chicken and drinking champagne before the friendly staff let us in and show us to the back table (by the bathrooms but hey after queuing with a hungry tummy you don't tend to mind). Hip hop music is playing in the background.
And why the girls? Mo Moubayed says, "We want butter to be about more than just food and drinks. One of our goals is to collaborate with artists, musicians and designers that inspire us, our first collaboration was with Sarah Bahbah aka Raised by the Wolves, paying homage to Sarah’s Sex & Take Out series, the artwork at butter is purely artistic, created by an amazing female artist."
The menu is mainly made up of fried chicken in various forms. There's a single person's 3Pac or the Size 13's that is 13 pieces of chicken served in a shoe box. Yep a sneaker box and if you happen to have some leftover, well it's a ready box to take away. Like the other fried hot chicken place Belle's, you can choose your heat. The "Naked" chicken is without sauce while "OG" has a very mildly hot sauce.
They recommend getting the chicken with the OG sauce and then getting a side of Fire and then Hot AF ($1 extra each) which is super hot that you can dip it into which is a wise idea if you're not sure how hot you want it. With the 13 piece box you get sides of fries, corn, slaw and pickled cucumber and the three sauces. We get a bit of everything including a sober Watermelon slushie (there's also an Hennessy and cherry Coke and the butter f%^& slushie with butter washed vodka with grapefruit juice is sold out). Beers, wine and champagne are also ordered at the bar along with the food.
It doesn't take long for the food to arrive. The size 13's arrive in a giant size 13 sneaker box. There are 4 thigh pieces, 9 tenders, 2 serves of pickles, 2 containers of slaw and the 3 sauces. The tenders and thighs are enormous and oh so juicy with a crunchy, jagged outer and a moist, succulent interior. I didn't expect to finish a whole piece but I do and then reach for another. We try the sauces as well as the hot sauces-the darker the sauce the hotter the sauce. I'd say that the hottest aka the Hot AF is as hot as a vindaloo curry while the hottest at Belle's was hotter. The chicken is brined with hydrated flours that creates a crispy skin. The chilli sauce is a combination of Asian and American fried chicken spices, the base consisting of Korean chilli paste (gochujang), ghee, paprika and various chilli powders
The three sauces are a honey mustard, buttermilk ranch and a smoked aioli. I like them all especially the sweet honey mustard and the smoked aioli. The coleslaw is fresh but very creamy and perhaps some dill and lemon might lighten it considering that the main event is fried chicken. The fries could be hotter but they come with some delicious chicken salt.
The corn cobs are rolled in a miso butter and are sweet and savoury in every bite. They're a good accompaniment to the chicken and slaw.
What's nice is that the vegetarians don't miss out because the fried tofu nuggets are really quite good with a crunchy crust like the chicken. The inside of the tofu is drier than chicken but flavour wise it is no slouch.
So I'm constantly getting told off for stuffing our fridge door full of condiments. What can I say except I love sauce? And that is the only thing missing from the chicken burger. There is a crunchy "naked" fillet, pickles, dashi butter and all it needs is some sauce or some of the slaw wedged inside it.
Dessert is a choice of soft serve. There are two flavours of soft serve: Milo with butterscotch French vanilla praline on top and peanut butter with sprinkles. They're both ok, the peanut butter is a bit muted but the toppings make the difference. I don't really like the taste of the colourful sprinkles but prefer the praline toffee on the chocolate.
"I'm thinking...." says Nick while looking at this Instagram account. He is trying to caption a picture of the saucy fried chicken using words like moist, juicy, dripping wet and wetness. "I want it soft porn, not hardcore porn!"
So tell me Dear Reader, are you into the fried chicken craze? How many pieces could you eat in one go? And tenders or thighs? And how long would you wait to get into a place?
6 Hunt St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Phone:(02) 8283 1329
Monday to Thursday 11:30am–10pm
Friday & Saturday 11:30am–11:30pm