Belles Hot Chicken, Barangaroo

Fried chicken wings and pickles.
Fried chicken wings and pickles. Photo: Fiona Morris

Wulugul Walk, The Streets of Barangaroo Barangaroo, New South Wales

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Opening hours Mon-Thu 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat 11am-11pm; Sun 11am-6pm
Features Cheap Eats, Wheelchair access, Bar
Prices Cheap (mains under $20)
Payments Cash, Visa, Mastercard
Phone No phone

Here's the skinny on the guy that made Melbourne fat. Morgan McGlone, the one-time model minder (he used to look after Lily Cole – everybody's favourite bug-eyed, ginger-haired gamine) turned chef and natural wine enthusiast, got a taste for spicy fried chicken while living in Nashville.

Bringing the idea back to Australia, McGlone opened in Melbourne and soon found he had a cult following for that unlikely combination of spicy-fried chicken and natural wine that should absolutely not work, but absolutely does.

And now the snack shack that made Fitzroy collectively unnotch their belts has arrived at Barangaroo. The site houses a collection of lo-fi pop-ups including a Mamak outpost and a dispense bar from the Barbershop crew. It's a long pop-up, though – we've got Barangaroo Belles until next September.

First things first: these guys aren't licensed. So while you can get a sweet tea (and I would highly recommend getting one for each hand if you order the "really f---ing hot chicken". It's legitimately, no fooling, really effing hot), there will be no pet-nat or grower champagne here this day.

Chicken shack: Belles Hot Chicken pop-up at Barangaroo.
Chicken shack: Belles Hot Chicken pop-up at Barangaroo. Photo: Fiona Morris

You can, however, pay a visit to neighbouring bar Gin and It. It pays to keep in mind this is an order, set and forget kind of deal. They may have an impressive selection of gins and a beautifully curated cocktail list, but the take-home message is minimum chat, batched cocktails and seating for the lucky few. The only interaction you're likely to have with your bartender is when he takes your order and your credit card.

Still, you can bask in the scent of Old Bay that perfumes the air from Belles. Because, let's face it, this is why you're standing around stalking tables at what is pretty much an extension of Cockle Bay Wharf.

The best way to nail a meal here is to do it in a posse and order the whole menu. You'll need to roll four deep to do this successfully. To my mind, you can pretty easily skip the leg meat, which doesn't yield the same level of crunch, juiciness and intensity of flavour as the wings, which you should definitely double order.

Sweet-and-sour sticky chicken ribs.
Sweet-and-sour sticky chicken ribs. Photo: Fiona Morris

When it comes to throwing down on the Scoville​ scale, ordering the really f---ing hot chicken is best left to the tenders.

Oh, and you can't look past a little snack of chicken ribs that taste like the trashiest sweet-and-sour Chinese food in the best possible way.

This is food with maximum flavour. And provided you don't mind eating standing up, it's also food geared to maximum fun.

THE LOWDOWN
Pro tip
 Stake a claim for a table before ordering, and prepare for the possibility that you'll be eating standing up.
Try this Chicken rib snack.
Like this? Hartsyard's fried chicken is a different style, but no less juicy and delicious. 33 Enmore Road, Newtown, 02 8068 1473.

http://belleshotchicken.com/