Nothing quite says America like a Belgian waffle, southern fried chicken pieces and a drizzle of maple syrup. It intrigues and disgusts at the same time. You can’t say it is without taste, it’s almost too much taste, and while the process of eating such dishes is enjoyable in doses, there is always the regret afterwards. Thankfully, not all the dishes on the menu are as elaborately decadent and obtuse as chicken and waffles.
In case you didn’t pick up on it, it is southern American food that rules the roost at Jazz City Diner. The New Orleans gumbo strewn with chicken, Andouille sausage and diced ham is thick and intense although it lacked the home-cooked feel that I got from trying similar dishes in Texas. And yes, I am aware that New Orleans is not in Texas so it could very well be that the Jazz City Diner version is on the money. It just didn’t blow my mind, that’s all.
The yam fries, which are not on the menu but can still be ordered with a nudge and a wink, were much more to my liking. As were the Jamaican jerk chicken wings served with onion rings that had a spicy, titillating kick and balanced surprisingly well with the water-like beer that is Millers. But the highlight was undoubtedly the Kansas City style pork BBQ ribs that fell off the bone, the flesh drenched in smokey BBQ sauce that was lip-smacking good. This is the dish you will talk about at the water cooler the next day.
While the whirlwind jazz flurry of Miles Davis played in the background of this tiny restaurant, our table questioned whether there was room for dessert in a stomach filled with shrimp corn dogs (they sound better than they are) and burgers (the no brainer on the menu - all sampled were tasty burgers). And of course there was room, we would make room, and the pecan pie (the winner) and banana cream pie (a close second) were shared among many, such was their richness.
Jazz City Diner fits into a small niche in the Sydney food scene - authentic southern American food - and it does so without compromise. After watching the chef work in the kitchen, it quickly becomes clear that this is a labour of love. However, many of the specialty dishes didn’t hit the mark with my fellow diners albeit there was enough on the menu for a positive experience. I’ll file this as an interesting one-off meal but unlikely to become a regular. Grab the ribs and the yam fries and you won’t leave disappointed.
Jazz City Diner
238 Crown Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
(02) 9332 2903