Now I'm not normally one to hang out at Hooters on a Tuesday night but mention chicken wings and I'm all there In The Name of Research.
KIDS EAT FREE TUESDAY proclaims the huge banner outside, and I'm wondering whether families do actually head here for a different type of Happy Meal. Yes, they do, I discover, as we head inside, two families arriving shortly after us. Most patrons are male, as I'd expected, although it's not half as seedy as I'd dreaded.
In fact the decor is reasonably pleasant, the high gloss wooden tables and assortment of decorative road signs reminding me of Planet Hollywood or Lone Star. There are plasma screens aplenty and a happy game of "How many plasma screens can you count" takes up at least ten minutes. We count 38 plasma screens, each broadcasting various sports, and indeed most patrons are more interested in the current cricket score than the staff, the Hooters girls dressed in trademark white singlets, tangerine mini football shorts and spray on tans to match.
Buffalo platter $19.50
Chicken wings, chicken strips and Buffalo-style shrimp
served with ranch or blue cheese dip
We share the buffalo platter and a serve of their famous chicken wings. Both arrive glistening ominously with oil. The buffalo platter has a mix of chicken wings, chicken strips and prawns, all coated in batter and coloured a dirty gold. The wings squirt out rivers of oil with the first bite, and the taste of old oil lingers on our tongues. Carrot and celery sticks provide some welcome palate refreshment, although I find the blue cheese dip fairly bland.
911 screamin' hot chicken wings $10.50 for ten
We'd been nervous about ordering the 911 screamin' hot chicken wings. How much fire could we expect?
The wings are doused in an orangey red sauce that is thick and sticky. Another river of oil flows out at first bite, and though the wings are quite moist and juicy, the overwhelming taste is sweetness with a touch of spice but a distinct lack of heat.
Heat factor: 2/10. Call Directory Assistance.
Philly cheesesteak $15.90
Marinated and grilled chopped steak topped with sauteed onions,
green capsicum and mushrooms with melted Swiss cheese.
Served on a hoagie roll with fries and fresh green salad.
The Philly cheesesteak, the pride of Philadelphia locals, is not too far from the original. Thin strips of marinated beef steak ooze with melted cheese. We order ours with mushroom. The hoagie roll is akin to a hot dog bun, the softness of everything lending itself to minimal chewing - true American comfort food.
Hooters burger with the lot $19.40
250g grain fed beef topped with sauteed onions, bacon, cheese and
sauteed mushrooms, served with fries and fresh green salad
We share a Hooters burger with the lot, a multi-tiered mountain of beef, bacon, cheese and mushrooms. The bacon isn't particularly crisp and the beef pattie tastes more cereal than meat, but it is generous in portion.
Quesadilla with steak, jalapenos and guacamole $18.00
Fresh flour tortilla filled with beef, melted cheese and served with
shredded lettuce, salsa and sour cream
I'm more a fan of the quesadilla, thin crisp tortillas encasing shavings of beef and a muddle of melted cheese. We add dollops of sour cream, salsa, jalapenos and guacamole, housed in plastic cups that while practical, do look a little tacky. Compared to the rest of the food on our table, this dish is welcomingly light on the stomach.
Key lime pie with ice cream $8.90
Chilled lime tart with citrus cream
Desserts are a mixed bag. I'd been excited about finding key lime pie on the menu--one of my favourite desserts--but this one tastes more like a pastry-heavy cheesecake, without the trademark sharp citrus zing and creamy decadence of filling.
Apple crumble with ice cream $8.90
To my surprise, the apple crumble is the much bigger hit, even if it does resemble a crumble-topped buttery strudel. The crumble has been cooked to a satisfying golden brown, the caramelised bits of crumble providing the perfect carriage for rapidly melting vanilla ice cream. The chunks of apple are surprisingly large too.
The entertainment begins just after dessert arrives. Nine o'clock is performance time. The strains of Nut Bush City Limits begin ominously in the background and before we know it, the girls are going through the motions accompanied by the impassioned wails of Tina Turner. The three women are spaced throughout the restaurant, and the 360 degree nature of the Nut Bush routine seems specifically designed for patron-friendly viewing.
It gets worse. After 90 seconds of Nut Bush the music fades and the girls rush about grabbing stools onto which they climb. More music comes on and another 30 seconds of choreographed gyrating ensues. It's the only time I feel uncomfortable, the bright lights, the kids at the next table and the bemused expressions of the patrons adding up to a performance awkwardness. The girls themselves are determinedly going through the motions, a resigned grin-and-bear-it endurance I can't help but cringe for. It reminds me of a trained monkey performance I witnessed at a zoo in Vietnam, beautiful soulful creatures made to dress in gaudy costumes and do pointless tricks to the oblivious merriment of locals.
At the same time I'm aware that my presence at Hooters was my choice, and tonight's entertainment is tame by most standards. Perhaps the mood feels better on a Friday night, when the bar is filled with a more appreciative crowd.
Overall the food isn't as pricy as I'd expected and everyone is respectful and well behaved. But I don't think I'm ever going to listen to Nut Bush City Limits in the same way ever again.
Hooters of Parramatta
132 James Ruse Drive, Parramatta, Sydney
(corner of Hassall Street)
Tel: +61 (02) 9633 5160
Open 7 days 12pm til late
Also open at
Hooters of Cronulla
3-5 Kingsway, Cronulla, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9929 7255
Hooters of Mermaid Beach
2488 Gold Coast Highway, Gold Coast, Queensland
Tel: +61 (07) 5572 4100
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4/11/2008 11:21:00 p.m.