Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published March 20th 2018
Heeeeeyyyy, it's a 50's diner, happy days
We've all seen them in old American movies, haven't we? Usually late at night, with street lamps shining palely through the mist – a diner, sometimes a converted railway carriage, always with a server in a forage cap, and often James Dean sulking in a corner, or Humphrey Bogart, with a cigarette between his lips, cracking wise with the waitress while the Andrews Sisters play in the background.
The mural at T'z diner (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Diners, according to Wikipedia offer 'a wide range of foods, mostly American cuisine, a casual atmosphere, and, characteristically, a combination of booths served by a waitstaff and a long sit-down counter with direct service' a definition I cannot possibly improve upon.
The concept, uniquely American has caught on and may now be found in far-flung places all over the world, even in the Perth foothills at Forrestfield where lurks Big T'z Diner, which I am certain they pronounce 'tee zee'.
My wife Angela and I, as invited guests, went there for lunch on a Saturday. The Diner is on the car park side of the Forrestfield Forum Shopping Centre, and inside looks like a set for an episode of Happy Days. There's even a jukebox playing 45's of Fats Waller, Buddy Holly and Doris Day, black and white checked flooring, posters from the 1950s (my childhood) and a general air of Big Bopper-ness and Chantilly Lace.
We chose a booth by the widows and had a glance at the menu, which is very traditional in the Diner-style, Burgers, Hot Dogs Chips and Southern Fried Chicken) with a nod to Australia by way of Pork Spring Rolls and a 'Quiche of the Day', which I'm fairly sure you wouldn't find in Flatbush.
Jalopeno Poppers at T'z Diner (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Prices are reasonable and portions quite generous. Angela chose as entrée Jalapeno Poppers ($12) and I selected Mac N Cheesy bites (four) ($8).
The Jalapeno Chillies were stuffed with cream cheese and spices, crumbed and deep fried – very hot and spicy, too spicy for my taste, but Angela enjoyed them. They were served with a small bowl of Siracha Aioli dipping sauce. Si racha is a Thai city where the hot sauce was first made for seafood. It's a sauce made from chilli pepper paste, vinegar, garlic, sugar and seasoning – it's hot and very popular in Thailand and Vietnam. It can also be used in soup, eggs, burgers, jams and cocktails.
Mac N Cheesy bites (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
My Mac N Cheesy bites were delicious and served with my selection of home-made aioli.
My choice for mains was what I had been told was T'Z's specialty, American BBQ Pork Ribs (600g) slow cooked in house BBQ sauce with two sides ($36) from a choice of Fries, Onion Rings, Garden Salad, Potato Salad, Mac N Cheese, Creamy Mash Potato or Cornbread (all $4 otherwise). A very popular dish. Alas for me, so popular is the dish that they had run out the previous night and it was 'off'.
300g Rump Steak with two sides (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
My second choice was a medium-rare Rump Steak ($25) with Mushroom sauce and Cornbread with Mac N Cheese. I was glad of the sides because the steak would have been very lonely on the plate without them, and although the steak was far too well-done for my taste, the mushroom sauce was excellent, as were the cornbread and onion rings.
And I have to say the 'Big T'Z all day Big Breakfast ($18.95) of two eggs, two rashers of bacon, two chipolata sausages, mushroom, wilted spinach, tomato a hash brown and two slices of toast looked pretty damn enticing. (Although the menu does offer 'rashes' of bacon, which sounds even better).
Vegetarian Jambalaya (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
Angela's main course was a serve of Vegetarian Jambalaya ($16), something of an oddity since it traditionally relies heavily on smoked sausage for flavour. Now associated with Louisiana, Jambalaya's origins lie in Spanish and Provençal cuisine (Jambalaia is, in fact, a French word) and usually incorporates chicken, Andouille sausage, rice, shrimp, celery, and spices.
Big T'Z's used beans (kidney, pinto and cannellini) to replace the protein and the result was acceptable, but curiously a trifle bland, lacking the meat for the deeper, richer flavour.
Dessert, however, was an unmitigated delight, my Key Lime Pie ($9.95) was light, sweet with a sharp edge and served with what was described as a berry compote (coulis really) and a couple of scoops of raspberry sorbet. Delicious, although I admit I was drawn to the White Chocolate Bread Pudding, Waffle and Ice Cream and Chocolate Pie. Maybe next time.
The coffee was exemplary and went so immensely well with dessert that I can recommend that to anyone.
The décor is great, the music nostalgic, the service swift and pleasant and the desserts amazing. If I were you I'd work my way down the dessert list. Kids are particularly welcome at T'Zs with a special menu and crayons and drawing sheets to keep them entertained.