Back in the heady days of my early 20s, Saturday nights spent clubbing on Courtenay Place were almost always followed by a hearty kebab at the late-night hotspot, Cafe Baba. Alas, that once salubrious kebab joint, a favourite among club-hoppers and 3am revellers, is no more. But the good news is, another tasty establishment has popped up in its place, to service the hungry hordes.
Hailing from mighty Hamilton, Winner Winner is a chicken restaurant that is guaranteed to give the Colonel a run for his money. With its slick fit-out, substantial menu and hospitable staff, this new eatery is a far cry from its kebab shop days and offers a more refined yet casual dining experience.
The Winner Winner menu revolves around the humble chook. From fire-roasted to fried, whole chicken to chicken sammies, there's a dish for all tastes and hunger levels.
On our visit, we opted for a quarter fire-roasted chicken with a side of tater tots ($16), hot dipped fried chicken ($13), a chicken sandwich ($14) and charred seasonal greens ($8) for good measure.
The fire-roasted chicken was nicely cooked and juicy, however it could have done with some gravy to zhoosh it up. Lesson learned. The tater tots were golden and plentiful and we scoffed the lot. The fried chicken was also a winner, with a crispy, moreish coating and a spicy kick. Bonus points for serving boneless chicken; you can tuck right into these morsels without the admin of pesky bones.
The chicken sandwich was more of a burger, but I am not complaining. This featured fried chook housed in a pillowy bun with lettuce and sauce. Simple and delicious. The seasonal greens with almonds and chilli provided a wholesome counterbalance to our fried dishes.
While the focus is on chicken, kudos to Winner Winner for designing a menu that offers a little something something for everyone. There are cheeseburgers and cheesy fries if chicken isn't your cup of tea. There's also a decent veggie offering, with a vegan jackfruit burger, plus a range of fresh salads, loaded fries, and a handful of vegan-friendly sides.
After gorging on chicken delights, we had no room for dessert, but the decadent pies in the cabinet definitely caught my eye. I've also made a mental note to return so I can try the indulgent mac 'n' cheese with a Twistie crumb.
On the drinks front, there's a decent lineup to wash down your meal. You'll find the usual Garage Project faves on tap as well as other local brews. Order by the glass (from $7), can (from $6) or grab a one-litre jug (from $23), if you're that way inclined. Wines are also available by the glass ($11) or bottle ($45). If you want something sans booze, pick a juice, soda or kombucha.
For a Tuesday evening, the place was packed and buzzing. Luckily this didn't hinder the staff at all, and we received our food very promptly. The wait staff were pleasant and attentive, making sure we had water on our table as soon as we were seated and checking in with us to get our feedback on the food and beer choice.
The casual vibe and reasonably priced nosh make this an ideal choice for a quick feed with your mates or a low-key dinner date. There's plenty of seating if you fancy dining in — just order at the counter first then grab a possie. Otherwise, order online or in-store and take your grub away.
Open all day Monday through Sunday, with 12am closings on weekends, Winner Winner may not be there for your 3am post-nightclub feed, but for lunch, dinner or a quick bite, it's a clucking good spot.