You won't eat a hot dog in a fancier restaurant.
We arrive at Blue Plate Grill to find a dining room much fancier than its American menu would suggest, with curved booth seating along one wall, a Roman column in the middle, and a spectacular chandelier above the bar.
We are a group of seven tonight, and immediately agree to share a mix of dishes for entree.
Deep dish pizza $16 for half
The deep dish pizza is a Chicago classic but a foreign concept to most Australians. Known for its quiche-deep filling, we find layers of Italian sausage mince and mushroom covered in mozzarella and drenched with a tomato sauce. The base is baked to a crunchy, almost biscuity texture, sturdy enough to hold the saucy filling.
My Bulmers cider $8
Buffalo wings $16
We travel from Chicago to update New York with a serve of buffalo wings, a local favourite. Fried wings are usually coated in a mixture of cayenne pepper hot sauce and butter but we find these aren't particularly sticky with sauce. Blue cheese sauce is quite mild, and the portion is a little on the small side, particularly when there are requisite carrot and celery sticks provided for dipping.
Potato skins $13
Potato skins are small baked potatoes with their middles scooped out and grilled with cheddar cheese and bacon. A pot of sour cream is more than generous this time.
Crab cake $16
Maryland-style crab cake is sweet with visible chunks of crab meat, bound with kernels of sweet corn.
Chilli dog $15
We ooh with excitement when the chilli dog arrives, a gargantuan-sized hot dog smothered with cheese and served with a mountain of french fries. There is much to be said for the pleasures of a soft hot dog bun, frankfurt and chilli beef mince that is stringy with molten cheese.
Philly Frank's Cheesesteak $17
We move onto mains, each person choosing their own poison/pleasure. Philly cheesesteak is the specialty of Philadelphia of course, a dish I tried with much anticipation on my last trip to the States. Thin slices of scotch fillet are soft and tender, sandwiched with caramelised onions, mushrooms and melted provolone cheese in a housemade soft hoagie roll. A pickle is all you need to escape the cheese and chip overload.
Barbecue ribs $38
Three of us have opted for the barbecue ribs, a portion that turns out to be enormous. A full rack of ribs is drenched with a spicy smoky barbecue sauce, the meat falling off the bone. This is sleeves-rolled, hands-on, finger-lickin' goodness.
The ribs come with your choice of side. I'm a huge fan of corn bread but I find this one disappointing, dry in texture and cold to the touch. Even lashings of butter cannot save this one, made in-house we're told.
Maple bourbon glazed salmon $29
with blackened corn and garlic mashed potato
Drunken pork chop soaked in beer brine and grilled $25
with cranberry apple sauce, vegetables and garlic mash
Strawberry verrine $13
We have to negotiate dessert as a group, toying with the available options before finally agreeing on three to share.
Strawberry verrine is one of the lighter desserts, layers of sponge cake sandwiched with white chocolate mousse and strawberries in a sturdy glass. A scatter of crushed pistachios adds crunch but the layer of strawberry jelly on top is more of a heavy elastic than a gentle wobble.
Gina's pumpkin pie $13
I'd predictably excited by the garnish on our next dish, a fork imprint made by a heavy dusting of nutmeg. It rests next to Gina's pumpkin pie, a Thanksgiving special in almost every American home. Heavily spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, the pumpkin puree is dense and rich.
Pecan pie $13
The pecan pie is the clear winner of the evening, the crisp pastry shell resplendent with whole pecans on top of a squidgy layer of brown sugar and bourbon that is caramelly in flavour.
Next time I'm having a whole piece all to myself.
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Blue Plate Bar and Grill
24 Young Street (enter from Grosvenor Street)
Neutral Bay, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9953 2942
Dinner 7 nights from 6pm
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11/10/2010 06:08:00 a.m.