Big Huey's Diner was opened on 19 February 2014 by two veterans of the Melbourne food and wine scene, chef and television personality Iain Hewitson and wine entrepreneur Neil Prentice. Located in the busy South Melbourne market precinct, Big Huey's Diner offers a wide array of coveted American food with a wicked, un-American twist.
Recently I was invited to Big Huey's to sample their offerings. As I was comfortably seated in one of the wide American style tables, Neil, the floor manager, gave me a small introduction to the opening of the restaurant and left me with the menu. The menu was decked with an extensive list of drinks, burgers, hot dogs, salads, burritos and chips with quirky options like Korean style burritos, Thai chicken slaw and so on. The price varied from $4.50 to $16.50. Choosing something from the menu was nothing short of a struggle. Once I had ordered and relaxed I tuned into my surroundings which boasted great American influence.
Our table was loaded with 5-6 different sauce ranging from Heinz ketchup to kickass bbq to ring of fire chilli sauces. The open kitchen bustled with activity as chefs moved around busily preparing orders. A jukebox standing alone on one side drew my attention and held it for a while. I learnt to use the jukebox and played my favourite Roy Orbison song 'You Got it' three times as well as some Beatles chart-toppers. The staircase to the restroom upstairs held more surprises. The walls were covered in flamboyant pictures depicting America of the 50's and 60's lending a funky vibe to the restaurant. The family friendly restaurant was abuzz with animated conversations, laughter and giggles while the air was pregnant with tantalising aroma of food.
I tried one of the Huey's halfies, the peacemaker which was essentially a burger of crispy fried oysters on spicy slaw with pickles and Cajun remoulade. The fried oyster was crispy outside and soft inside and in partnership with the spicy slaw and pickles and Cajun remoulade mayo made the burger a foodie delight. The absence of grease made the burger more enticing. After the first tentative bite I hungrily wolfed down the burger which left me craving for more.
The Glenn's ripper Kansas city wings were the next to arrive on our table. Plump chicken wings covered in a thick coating of sour sauce were certainly not the best chicken wings I have tried. The meat was tender but the sauce was a strange combination of hot and sour which did not really hit the mark.
The spicy southern fried chicken burger was one of Huey's 'wicked burgers' I sampled. The chicken strips were crunchy from outside and butter soft inside. The bread was light and fluffy. The house pickles, spicy slaw and Cajun remoulade mayo only elevated the experience.
The popcorn prawn po'boy rates a glorifying mention. The crispy prawn cutlets sandwiched between super soft buns in conjunction with Cajun remoulade slaw, house pickles and a roasted tomato and chipotle salsa made a delicious burger. The succulent prawns had a crunchy tempura exterior and a juicy core. A burst of flavours greeted my tastebuds as my tongue found its way through the various layers of the burger.
Now to the drinks. The raspberry version of "Tommy's Margarita" made famous by Original Tommys in San Francisco was an interesting drink. The generous use of raspberry overwhelmed the flavours of tequila and lime. The mango margarita was more enjoyable and made a nice companion to our food. The pink moscato was quite scrummy. The lemon meringue milkshake was yummy while the fancy pants spider was quite tasty.
By the time we had finished our food and drinks we had reached bursting point. But Neil insisted on trying some of their famous desserts. So we ordered the sundae and Elvis s'more.
The sundae was in one word sumptuous. The trio of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate ice creams with strawberries, blueberry compote, fudge sauce, wafers and cream Chantilly was a personal favourite. The sweetness was done to the level of perfection. Despite being full, we loosened our belts and finished off the entire platter and licked our spoons clean. Nirvana was fully delivered!
Elvis s'more comprised of toasted banana bread and caramelised marshmallows topped with Jock's peanut butter and jelly ice cream. The banana bread was tasty but it was the peanut butter and jelly ice cream that elevated the dish from good to very good.
We finished off with French press coffee which was aromatic and rich. Neil returned with 2 glasses of muscat which was simply superb. The sugar sweet dessert wine seamlessly complemented the strong coffee.
Important tidbits of information: - The restaurant sits 60 people. There is an outside sitting area and a private function room upstairs.
- Big Huey's hosts all kinds of functions.
- There is a happy hour from 4pm to 6pm from Tuesday to Sunday where you can enjoy $4 house wine and beer, $10 French champagne with provision for free bar snacks.
- Big Huey's is fully licensed.
- Restrooms are available.
Big Huey's Diner with its robust dishes and delicate tastes, warm and cosy atmosphere, friendly service and modest price range makes a delightful choice for a big feast or an intimate meal. I will be returning for more of their tasty treats.