Not all diners are created equal. If you ask head chef and owner Alistair Fogg where the inspiration for Nighthawk came from, he’ll tell you it was diners, because he loves that they are so egalitarian. But we’re here to say Alistair, we’re sorry, they’re not, because your’s is better than the rest.
Okay, yes, we’ll acknowledge that Alistair is right in that diners are for everyone. In America, you’ll find road workers rubbing shoulders with theatre goers, united over a love of burgers and sandwiches. And in what was once a food truck garage on a corner of Abercrombie St, the Nighthawk team have created a spot where anyone feels welcome. On the Friday night we dine, we beat the rush by popping in at 5.30pm, mainly because it’s Friyay and we’re extremely thirsty. In turns out it was the right move, because by 6.30pm, the seats at the open bar/kitchen pass are full, the tables for two along the windows are taken and the communal picnic table sections are full too. There are groups of hipsters who have just clocked off from Chippendale’s cool kid digital agencies, there are families, couples, office types, even someone still tapping away at their laptop. Nighthawk has the community feel of a diner, but boy do they take things up a notch.
So it turns out we’re both right Alistair! Nighthawk has been doing this for a few years now, and before the diner, it started off life as a food truck. These days the food truck garage makes for an awesome split level dining space, with the bottom half filled with long tables and a projection screen – American classic films are always on, and during basketball session, you can expect to find all the games playing.
We’ve popped in because there’s a brand new menu. There’s still a solid list of burgers and sandwiches but gone are the Philly and the Cuban. Instead, we have the Chicago Italian beef, a hoagie roll (aka long bun) packed with juicy, slow roasted beef, cheese, a few sneaky pieces of cauliflower (it works, trust us) and special Nighthawk sauce. Or there’s the crunchy potato katsu sandwich – fried potato latke with katsu curry sauce and slaw. Meat-lovers will lap up the ribwich – pork rib pattie, slaw, BBQ sauce, oh my.
Now aside from the bun section of the menu, there’s a fun mix of comfort food dishes – tacos, quesadillas, bean dip, fried chicken, hearty half and full racks of ribs, and of course, mac n cheese, and big baskets of fries. Tucked in to the mention options are some vegetarian and even vegan offerings. The team wants anyone and everyone to feel welcome, and they’ve got a bit of a taste for the occasional meat-free menu item.
We’re putting our hands up now to say the coconut soft serve ice cream you can choose for your boozy shake (yes, there are thickshakes and boozy shakes on the menu) or your ice cream sundae, is a real treat. Dairy eaters can go to town on the changing flavours of both shakes and sundaes, but we don’t feel we missed out one bit with a peach and coconut vegan sundae.
We can’t lie, the boozy shakes did tempt us, but it was hard to switch from the mean margaritas we’ve drinking. The bar tenders do double duty as waiters, and we admire their multitasking – the margarita is certainly worth coming back for.
69 Abercrombie St, Chippendale
Tues – Sat: 11am – 10pm