4 129 Marrickville Rd Marrickville, NSW 2204
|Opening hours||Fri-Sat noon-10pm, Sun noon-9pm, closed 4pm-5pm (lockdown hours, takeaway only)|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
The arrival of a masked delivery person on a bicycle who has just pedalled 3.6 kilometres from an adjoining suburb to bring hamburgers is a humbling thing. "Thank you!" I shout through a closed kitchen window as we meet eyes. He bows, gestures a prayer with his hands and is off, cycling 3.6 kilometres back to collect more takeaway orders for delivery.
Three days previously, the supermarket delivery man waves and gives a thumbs up prompting this home's youngest inhabitant to hold the cat up to the window to wave back. It's like a bank ad come to life round here. One treasured moment of fleeting human contact and we're personifying emotive TV commercials for contents insurance or faster broadband speed that brings the whole family together.
The delivered food is from Baby Rey's, a just-opened American-style hamburger emporium in Marrickville near the corner of Marrickville and Victoria roads. After three-and-a-half years operating a food truck stationed in Dulwich Hill, Bankstown and Marrickville microbrewery Stockade Barrel Co, and running the kitchen at the Crown & Emperor Hotel up the road, brother-and-sister owner-operators Rey Tesalona and Donna Ward opened the permanent restaurant in April.
Baby Rey's fan-base filled the tables immediately. Sitting under the compact restaurant's "I like big buns" neon wall sign, they revelled in a menu offering inventive sides such as cheeseburger spring rolls, mac 'n' cheese balls and truffle and pho-fries along with six much-loved house hamburgers, and plus specials, honed in the food truck.
When Baby Rey's announced a 1 kilogram burger challenge in May, more than 30 people competed to eat a towering five-patty, four-bacon rasher burger with fries and a soft drink in the shortest time. The competition's winner took two-and-a half minutes.
Lockdown restrictions closed off the restaurant tables in late June but Baby Rey's pivot to takeaway only has not stopped them for a second.
It's hard to choose between the Donald Truff (presidential ingredient; truffle mayonnaise), the Cheesegasm (double American cheese with cheese-infused mayonnaise) and the Koo-Koo Burger (buttermilk fried chicken, house slaw and secret maple drizzle).
We settle for the Wild West, a meat party in a black sesame-flecked bun featuring rocket, lovely juicy beef patties, Havarti cheese, grilled onions, Smith's barbecue crinkle chips and smokey barbecue mayonnaise. Also ordered is a Classex, with layers of caramelised onions, ajvar (roasted red pepper sauce), lettuce, tomato, beef, double American cheese and mayonnaise.
Both are eaten unstoppably in a succulent whirl of plump and beefy patties, rich sauce, juicy onions, fresh greens and golden oozy cheese. And our buns are indeed big.
This all goes down with six crisply golden mac and cheese balls dusted with parmesan cheese and a big serve of pho-fries, a marriage of hot chips and a topping made from hot Sriracha mayonnaise, hoisin, fried shallots and coriander.
Rey Tesalona, who grew up in Marrickville, says his family's Asian background is the influence for this dish. Once a liquor licence is approved he plans to add craft beers from nearby breweries, showcase local talents in live music nights and host cooking demonstration days. There are also plans to expand Baby Rey's into western Sydney.
Our plans include ordering one of the dessert specials, either deep-fried chocolate empanadas or deep-fried apple bites, once restrictions ease as both are currently pick-up only because the ice-cream melts.
Tesalona advises keeping an eye on Baby Rey's Instagram account for various seasonal specials in coming days and weeks and we'll be first in line for upcoming end-of-week specials including slow-cooked ribs and pork crackling.
Any dish on this lip-smacking burger joint's menu is worth lining up for. Human contact, however transient, is simply an added bonus.
Main attraction: Luscious, well-stacked American-style burgers that feel homemade and luxurious at the same time.
Must-try dish: The chubby Wild West's mix of beef, melted Havarti, juicy grilled onions, Smith's barbecue crinkle chips and smokey barbecue mayonnaise.
Insta-worthy dish: Ring the Classex burger's layers of caramelised onions, roasted bell pepper sauce, beef and double American cheese with a golden halo of parmesan-dusted mac and cheese balls for heightened comfort food aesthetics.
Drinks: Coke, creaming soda, bottle water $3; Oreo milkshake $6.