Trend spotting: Bird is the word

Bennelong's Friday lunch roast chicken

Bennelong's Friday lunch roast chicken

Could there be a chicken in every pot? Judging by the number of roast chooks appearing on menus around the country right now, it seems a real possibility. And Scott Pickett is running with it. This month the Estelle Bistro and ESP chef opened Pickett's Deli & Rôtisserie - a casual European-style eatery and wine bar in Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market. "Most chefs love simple food done well and nothing beats a perfectly roasted chicken," he says. Pickett's Deli is open seven days from 7am until 11pm, serving the roast bird in a sandwich to go, or for dining-in with the likes of tarragon mayo and pickles. "The most difficult things to cook are often the simplest dishes," he says. "We clean the bird, brine it, rinse, stuff, truss, dry, season and roast it. That's a two- or three-day process before it's ready for the rôtisserie - and it makes all the difference.

Across town, Paul Wilson is set to open Wilson & Merchant, a luxed-up chicken shop and restaurant at Prahran Market, while chooks are also being miso-glazed at Belleville, and cooked by Philippe Mouchel at his newish bistro, Philippe.

In Sydney, chicken stars in a fricassée at Hubert, and is wood-fired at No 1 Bent Street, the breast dressed with roasting juices, the wing and leg tossed with green beans, hazelnuts and tarragon vinaigrette. It also swims in cream sauce at Bar Brosé, flies off rôtisseries at Mercado and The Paddington, and now even makes a cameo at the Opera House at Bennelong during Friday lunch - stuffed with lemon thyme and served with sautéed cauliflower, chestnut chips and sugar snap peas, and roasted Jerusalem artichokes with sheep's milk feta.

"It's thrown around a little bit, but it's comfort food," says Pickett. "We love it for those memories of Mum's roast chook, or, in my case, my old man's beer-can chicken on the Weber - before they were cool."

Pickett's Deli & Rôtisserie, 503 Elizabeth St, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9382 3213, pickettsdeli.com


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