The Nighthawk Diner
69 Abercrombie Street, Chippendale
Opening hours: 11am-10pm Mon – Sat
Stepping into the Nighthawk Diner feels like a holiday away from Sydney in 2019, and into America, nowhere specific except ‘a diner,’ in no specific year.
Recently, they have updated their menu, and we went along to taste, sip and experience what they had on offer, which we are happy to report is a damn good time. The Nighthawk Diner is an American-style diner that specialises in common American food and then makes it gourmet. The restaurant is known as ‘Nighthawk HQ,’ as it is the only immobile restaurant in the chain. The Nighthawk used to be a food truck, however, became a restaurant in 2018. There are still food trucks in full operation, ‘Nighthawk,’ ‘Sweethawk,’ and ‘Tacohawk.’ On first appearance the restaurant is modern with a rustic feel, which is contributed to by the open brick walls, hanging plants and pictures of old American cars that line the walls.
The first thing we did, of course, was order a drink. The cocktail menu was looking mighty fine, but in terms of making up our mind, we simply couldn’t choose. So, we enlisted the help of the cocktail master, who recommended the Charlie Chapman, which has sloe gin, lime juice and apricot brandy liqueur. To say ‘yum’ would be an understatement, as the drink was both sweet and sour and truly hit the spot. It was perfect to sip on throughout the first course.
We jumped straight into mains, not wanting to waste any time. It was very hard to pick, and a special mention goes to the Fried Chicken Sandwich (buttermilk fried chicken, blackened Cajun potato salad and chipotle mayonnaise on a hoagie roll) and the Cheeseburger (beef brisket patty, American cheese, sweet pickles, pickled onions & Nighthawk sauce on a soft bun) as not only did they sound delicious, but they look it (pictured). We instead went with the Marinated Salmon Steak(a marinated then grilled steak of salmon served with a light salmon gravy and a citrus ambrosia salad) and the Fried Chicken Steak(buttermilk-soaked chicken breast fried, served with pickled cabbage and topped with white country-style gravy), with a side of Shoestring Fries and Blackened Potato Salad. The food was something you wanted at the end of a long day; hearty, filling and tasty, it is what you’re actually looking for when you walk into a diner.
Once finished, we were daunted by the thought of dessert for one simple reason – we were full! The meals were a fabulous size, but we knew deep down we wanted – no, needed – to try the desserts that Nighthawk have on offer. We settled on a Chocolate Thick Shake($9) and the Sundae Du Jour ($16). Our choice of sauce was chocolate, and the sweet bits on top included glace cherries, whipped cream, sprinkles and Oreos, so yes, it was good. It was more than good, in fact, it was great.
The atmosphere of the diner was cool and modern. One side of the restaurant is a wall of windows, and the other is covered in a large projector, that was playing old American movies, which definitely set the scene and cemented the American-ness of it all. Booth style seats and open dining meant that when the restaurant was filling up, the feel was communal and friendly. The Nighthawk Diner is a classic local joint with good food and great drinks, which is definitely worth a visit, if not for the immensely friendly staff and fun decor, but for the American style food which is not easy to come by in Sydney.