A self-indulgent blog post, about a man and his waffles.
I write this post with a very heavy heart- Clock it, it’s Wednesday 30 June, a start of a new day, but the start of the last day for Bells Hot Chicken Darling Square.
It all started in 2018, merely 3 years have passed but this romance has felt much longer than that. The once Entertainment Centre site, flattened into rubble, but resurrected into a commercial, residential, and entertainment precinct. And the first to open was Darling Square, a less than 20 metre long alley of shops and restaurants- and there, on the East West end of this short strip of stores is (or was, depending on when you’re reading this post) Bells Hot Chicken.
Pre-Covid, we were dine in customers only- my usual at Bells Hot was the Saturday Special- Waffles and Chicken drumsticks (Hot), and an Arnold Palmer to cleanse the pallet before transitioning back from hot to sweet. But when Covid hit, our usual practice became ‘shuffle up to the takeaway counter’, order Waffles and Chicken drumsticks (Hot) to go, and in a matter of minutes we were back at our apartment, watching TV with our Bells Hot Chicken & Waffles in-front of us. Amber maple syrup poured over the 4 triangles of waffles, making sure that none of it found its way onto the chicken. And then it’s a forkful of waffles dripping with maple syrup, followed by a chicken drumstick (hot), finger so licking good! Sure, dining from home there wasn’t any Arnold Palmer chaser (half-and-half ice tea and freshly squeezed lemonade), but we made do with our own chasers (this week it was half-and-half apricot nectar with carbonated H2O).
And after 3 rounds of waffle + chicken drumstick (hot) +one more slice of waffle, belching softly I’m content. We always vow not to eat waffles and chicken (hot) again, for at least another 6 weeks. But inevitably we always end up back there, after having mad cravings for the fluffy sweet waffles, and the crunchy, spicy, and always cooked to perfection chicken drumsticks. Mmmmmm. I’m not counting here, but I estimate that these cravings kick-in within 3 weeks, and we succumb to these cravings 1-2 weeks after the symptums first present themselves.
On our second to last visit to Bells Hot Chicken Darling Square, whilst walking towards it, I asked my wife: “How devastated would you be, if we got there and it was closed down?” She responded, “9”, “Was that 9 out of 10 for being very devastated, or was this some reverse scaling system where 9 equated to not devastated at all?” I asked her, to clarify.
“No, no, 9 for being very devastated”, she confirmed. But hallelujah, as per usual, as we rounded the corner we could see that they were open! A staff member manning the take-away counter, while it was always pretty empty inside the actual restaurant. We made our orders, stood aside to wait, and when our waffles & chicken (hot) were ready. The staff member handed us the takeaway bag, and as a final thought he added “We’re closing at the end of the month, but the Barangaroo and Tramshed outlets will still be open.” And we were left utterly deflated, our worst nightmare realised. No more waffles & chicken (hot) in front of the TV anymore! Nooooo!
Fast forward a week, Sydney CBD was under lockdown orders due to the second wave of Covid, residents only permitted to leave their homes for 4 reasons: work or studies (if they cannot be performed remotely); visiting family or friends for compassionate reasons; for exercise; or for shopping for essentials. And with our lunch options limited (most restaurants were shut), we decided to get waffles & chicken (hot) in consecutive weekends, the last hurrah for old time sake. Not to mention visiting Bells Hot, ticked 3 of 4 criteria to leave the home during Covid lock-down (as Waffles & Chicken is soo an essential). But it was obvious that my wife’s love of waffles isn’t as devout as mine, as with our final opportunity she still elected the chicken (hot) sandwich over waffles. With the predictable end outcome being, that I was very satisfied and 95% full with a quarter of waffle to go. While she had long finished her sandwich before me, and I’d say she was probably only moderately satisfied and 85% full. And with my final triangle of waffle sitting there crying out to be eaten, I pushed my takeaway box over to her. “No, you have it, I’m full”, I lied. Something as good as waffles? Must be shared with loved ones!
So here I am, writing this open letter/blog to you, Bells Hot Chicken and Saturday special ‘Waffles & Chicken’, although you’re pretty pricy at $20 a serving, but you have brought me and my wife much joy over the past 3 years. Although I’ll never be able to enjoy your fluffy sweet waffles and crunchy, spicy, perfectly cooked chicken ever again from the comfort of our own home. But at least I’ll always have these fond memories of you, tucked away in my memory, to be re-lived and enjoyed whenever those mad cravings return.
I know this isn’t good-bye forever, as your cheery employee stated- that both Barangaroo and Tramshed outlets are still open, so one day we will meet again, when the mad cravings are so severe that this boy is motivated enough to go cross-town to be re-united with his waffles! Till then, shalom, and we’ll meet again, don’t know where or when. …. Who am I kidding, it’ll be at Barangaroo and I’d say, it’ll probably be within the next 4 weeks. SWEET!