It says something about Melbourne that on a street corner where you can get your hands on a kebab at no less than half a dozen joints until well into the AM, we still flock when someone does it with style that rocks.
That Biggie Smalls is an instant hit should come as no surprise to anyone who’s eaten Shane Delia’s big-flavoured Middle Eastern feasts at the CBD’s Maha over the years, or anyone who’s watched his big-hearted feasts during his various Spice Journeys on SBS.
Joining a slew of chefs turning their high-end smarts to low-rent ideas (see Neil Perry’s burgers and George Calombaris’s souvas) Biggie Smalls is Delia’s modern reimagining of a kebab served up to a soundtrack of namesake old-school hip hop. It’s phat beats and mean eats.
While the subway-channelling space – complete with a few vinyl-clad booths with overhead lockers filled with Adidas shoeboxes fresh from the sneaking-lovin’ chef’s own collection – is a Smith St hipsters’ paradise after dark, during the day it’s filled with an eclectic mix of old and new school Collingwood. It’s a kebab joint, after all.
And those kebabs are the redefining benchmark. Thick pillowy bread warmed on the hotplate come in a half-dozen versions, each piled generously high with fillings. The defining – winning – ingredient in each being the flavoured hummus, whether a totally delicious peanut butter version that elevates the East Coast’s sweet maple-glazed pulled pork ($14), or a cleverly spiced pumpkin pie hummus that’s the bed for crunchy-good pieces of fried chook in the Dirty South ($13).
The signature A-Rab, simply filled with slow-cooked lamb and smoked hummus and excellent pickles, is all about good ingredients and a clever recipe ($10), while the West Coast ($14), with a good half-dozen large tender shrimp (prawns to you and I), has a good hit of harissa heat.
And to go with, it’s all about the chips. The crunchy crinkle cut beauties are seasoned with a bang-on blend of preserved lemon, spices and a drizzle of butter (yes, butter).
A good whack of gin in a watermelon and mint slushy slakes a summertime thirst most elegantly, while the beer (Melbourne Bitter, Colonial Draught) comes in (ice-cold) cans.
And with branding that’s as loud as the music, you’ll never forget where you’ll never look at a kebab the same again.
Originally posted on Delicious on 20 January 2016. Written by Dan Stock. Picture by Nicola Cleary.