Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country right now: Biggie Smalls, Collingwood.
Maha chef Shane Delia is a fan of both 90s hip-hop and kebabs, and at Biggie Smalls (named, for those who failed Hip-Hop 101, after deceased Brooklyn rapper Notorious B.I.G.) he's combined the two. A narrow Collingwood shopfront a few doors away from the original Huxtaburger has been cleverly designed to riff on the classic American diner - booth seating, retro pegboard menu - while still referencing Aussie kebab shops. That means an order-at-the-counter/cans of drink in the fridge layout, though many of the cans here happen to contain beer. Best of all, it doesn't flog the theme, limiting the hip-hop references to a couple of black-and-white photos and the excellent soundtrack.
The kebabs (or "kbabs") are good too, made with quality ingredients - slow-cooked lamb shoulder served with pickled onions and smoked hummus, maple-glazed pork belly with crackling, peanut butter and pickles, fried chicken with pumpkin pie hummus - and teamed with fluffy flatbread fresh off the grill.
One of the admirable qualities of Delia's kebabs is that they're well constructed. They come securely wrapped and fastened so they don't drip or fall apart, just the kind of detail that should be considered by every kebab shop operating in a suburb full of bars.
Aside from "kbabs", there's sweet stuff (the peanut butter caramel-injected pretzel has already caused a bit of swooning online) and very good chips, crinkle-cut and tossed with burnt spiced butter and preserved lemon. Add beer in cans, the availability of gin-and-juice slushies and bourbon-spiked shakes and a general sense of fun and you have a whole lot of reasons to be happy Biggie's in the 'hood.
Biggie Smalls, 86 Smith St, Collingwood, Vic, (03) 9417 3531. Open Sun-Wed 11am-11pm, Thu-Sat 11am-late.
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