J and I headed to the new pub in Gungahlin, Young and Frisky, for a late lunch one weekend. Dubbed a fried chicken and whisky bar, Young and Frisky is the brain child of the owners of Hopscotch in Braddon. The menu includes a choice of burgers (including a fried tofu burger and prawn po boy), bar snacks, a sirloin, parma, schnitty, fish and chips and some desserts. As we entered the pub, we were greeted by a long bar pouring all sorts of beer, whiskey and other alcoholic beverages. A waitress welcomed us in and we sat down at one of the high tables.
The fit out is similar to Hopscotch with timber paneling a major feature inside, and the name of the pub clearly highlighted on the wall.
Orders are taken at the bar and I asked whether they made any mocktails. The barman said he could certainly concoct something for me and I asked for something with berries in it. The mocktail ($8) was a passionfruit and guava mix with a lychee thrown in and a little bit of fizz. It was more of a fruit juice than anything else.
There were a few specials clipped onto the menu, and one of these was the southern fried chicken burger with lettuce, tomato and aioli, served with crinkle cut frisky fries ($16). J ordered this and it was the first to arrive. The chicken certainly looked nice and crispy. J said that although there was some crunch and the chicken was meaty, it was an average fried chicken burger. The fries on the other hand were crunchy and sprinkled with a yummy BBQ seasoning.
Since it was going to be a fried chicken kind of day, I ordered one of the bar snacks of southern fried popcorn chicken ($13) to share. I’m happy to say that the popcorn chicken was wonderfully crispy, hot and seasoned well, just like it should be. They were good bite sized pieces and though the packaging looked small, there was a decent portion provided and we didn’t actually finish it. I liked the kitsch popcorn chicken bag that it was served in too.
We contemplated getting the frisky bucket for $59 but I thought it was very expensive for only 9 pieces of chicken, though you do get 3 sides and 4 sauces. I stuck with the standard 3 piece combo for $18. There were 4 steps to ordering – 1) choose your cut – wings, thighs or drumsticks, I chose the latter; 2) choose your heat – mild, southern fried medium or plucken hot, I chose mild; 3) choose your sides – frisky fries, coleslaw, mac n cheese, pickled vegetables, buttermilk biscuits, braised greens and smoked hock or mash and gravy. I chose mac n cheese; and 4) choose your sauce (note this isn’t included in the combo and is an extra $2 per sauce) – mac sauce, Memphis BBQ, blue cheese ranch, honey mustard, lemon and herb, chicken gravy, and chipotle and Canadian maple, I chose chicken gravy. This came out at the same time as the popcorn chicken so I was busily swapping between the two. I ended up with 4 pieces of fried chicken (score!) and gave the 4th piece to J to try. The drumsticks were large pieces and all beautifully and evenly fried until crunchy and coated in a BBQ and chilli seasoning. I could immediately hear that crunch as I sank my teeth into the first drumstick. Surprisingly, the mild heat was not so mild, to J’s glee, and my lips were still burning afterwards. The chicken was succulent and oh-so juicy. I was very happy with my choice! The flavour of the chicken gravy got a little lost with the spiciness of the chicken, but tasted great with the frisky fries. I liked that a single slice of white bread was provided at the bottom of the drumstick stack to soak up all the oil. Smart. And if you want a heart attack, you could probably eat it too.
The side of mac n cheese was a larger portion than expected making this 3 piece combo a filling meal (I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be full at first). I liked the crunchy pieces of grated parmesan and bread crumbs on top, but the rest of the mac n cheese wasn’t cheesy enough for me. I’m not sure if this was because my taste buds had been overpowered by the spicy chicken, but I could only taste cream and not cheese. We didn’t end up finishing the side because of that.
Service was pleasant and it was nice that one of the waiters came around to check on how we were going with the food. It didn’t take long for our food to arrive, but we were there for a late lunch (about 2.30pm) so it wasn’t rush hour. J loves his spice and we have often found many eateries in Canberra advertising ‘hot sauce’ or ‘hot wings’ that have absolutely no heat at all. So it was nice to find a place that actually had spicy heat. If the mild heat was that spicy for me, I do not want to know what the plucken hot heat feels like. Young & Frisky also have a whole shelf filled with hot sauces if you need that extra hit. After seeing the portion sizes for myself, the bucket is an obvious choice for a larger group or for a family. If you don’t want any sauces, you’re actually better off getting 3 x 3 piece combos than the bucket.
Overall, Young & Frisky do a great fried chicken that’s crunchy, spicy and juicy as hell.
Value for money 7/10
FPJ score 23/30
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