In SBS VICELAND's series F*ck, That’s Delicious, New York rapper Action Bronson eats his way around the world. This season, he finally made his way down under, visiting Ben Shewry’s acclaimed restaurant, Attica, in Melbourne. In theory, pairing the heavily tattooed, outspoken Bronson with internationally renowned chefs for a television series seems improbable, but in practice, it makes for great entertainment.
But the marriage of hip-hop and food doesn’t end with Bronson and his show. In fact, in Australia, the union is only getting stronger. I’m talking about the latest culinary trend across the country — hip-hop themed restaurants. Although we’re far removed from the streets of Compton, we can’t seem to get enough of America’s hip-hop culture and have taken our infatuation from the speakers to the kitchen. From sandwich shop Toastface Grillah in Perth to Sydney’s new Jay Z-themed bar, The Carter, serving food to a soundtrack of '90s rap is bringing in the Benjamins, baby.
Toastface Grillah (Perth, WA)
Surely whoever came up with this name is on some kind of permanent, internationally recognised free drinks list. A punny ode to Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah, the Perth toastie café shot to international fame after the rapper himself played an impromptu in-store performance when he visited in 2014. Can you imagine how owners Alister Miles and Marica Pastorelli felt as they watched a member of one of the biggest hip-hop groups in the world performing in their humble sandwich abode? Amazing.
The spot is doing so well they started looking into opening up shop in NYC, but ended up keeping it local and opening another small laneway café in Perth, aptly named Lil’ Toastface. The menu is dotted with genre references, but the best one would have to be the Notorious B.A.G. (Bacon, Apple, Gouda) — both in name and taste.
Big Poppa’s (Sydney, NSW)
Named after the Biggie track of the same name, Big Poppa’s is notorious in Sydney. (Sorry, had to.) On street level, the place looks like a pretty standard modern Italian restaurant, but once you head down the stairs it’s a whole different story. A story told through blaring beats, velvet carpet, and portraits of rap’s finest adorning the walls and floors. On paper, the concept is pretty hilarious — a bunch of white guys running an Italian restaurant that specialises in cheeses and stays open till 3am playing '90s R&B. But the packed house every night says it’s working.
The Carter (Sydney, NSW)
The Carter opened to huge hype, both locally and internationally. It seems paying homage to Jay Z and Beyoncé will garner you nothing but praise and a loyal clientele. But how do you do a couple like that justice, without just serving lemonade? The answer is gold — use it everywhere. Then take a step back, look around at all the gold and add some more. Modelled off Jay Z’s own 40/40 club in New York, the bar and restaurant serves good, classic American food like wings and fried chicken to a backdrop of Jay and Bey street art — and a lot of gold.
Biggie Smalls (Collingwood, Vic.)
Think it’s pretty safe to say by now who Australia’s favourite rapper is. Kebab spot Biggie Smalls is another ode to the late and great Brooklyn rapper. Yes, I said kebab spot. The Melbourne joint boasts a classic NY diner vibe, an enviable sound system and… a Middle Eastern food menu. Because, why the hell not? The kebabs are divided into two sections on the menu: New Skool and Old Skool, and there are both East and West Coast variations of the dish, too. Biggie themed Kebabs — if you don’t know, now you know.
Watch F*ck, That’s Delicious at SBS On Demand.
And check out the Melbourne episode right here: