When is a chicken not just a chicken? When its from Smokey Den! You might wonder why we are getting excited about a charcoal chicken restaurant. I get it – you’re trying to recall one that has really stood out, one with some discerning features or menus. Well this one is it, and it’s pretty awesome….
It would be easy to assume that Smokey Den is a well established chain of restaurants instead of the first joint venture of local Point Cook siblings Sam, Ghada, Adam and Suzan. They have invested a lot of thought, time and effort to create not just a casual restaurant, but a brand – one they hope will be known for fresh, quality food, house-made marinades and excellent service. On our first visit, I can’t help but feel Smokey Den is nailing the brief.
Smokey Den’s brand identity, including logo, interior design and point of sale products were designed by Melbourne team ODO. It’s fun, fresh and modern, and very deliberately unlike any other major food brands. I love it – shiny subway tiles, polished concrete floors and that super bright yellow frame creating the “den”, balanced with muted orange, greys and peach. The timber accents and seating add to the warmth – it’s not fast-food being served here, and the space created by ODO is designed for customers to sit, relax and have a meal – all while watching the team at work.
Smokey Den’s menu features free range chicken freshly prepared in one of three house-made marinades and cooked on a charcoal fired rotisserie. You design your own meal adding whatever sides you prefer, and there is a variety of salads, vegetables and some really nice chips!
If chicken on the bone isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other options to choose from including parmigiana, schnitzels, wraps, burgers, fajitas and grilled skewers – I was pleasantly surprised by the menu in terms of it’s range and the healthy options available. It’s also really good value; most meals (including chips and a small drink) will set you back between $10 and $15, and the kids meals start at $6. You can download the menu here.
So let’s talk about Smokey Den’s chicken…! Sam makes the marinades himself – his favourite creation, and the most popular, is the Lemon & Herb and we’ve heard people raving about it, but we decided to give the Chilli a go.
The chicken was plump, tender and juicy and it came with a huge portion of light, crispy chips – which are one of only two things on the menu not made fresh on the premises. Don’t be fooled by all the chilli flakes – its packs just the right amount of heat and the peri peri mayo is delish! Complimented with a crunchy greek salad from the salad bar, for $13.90 it was a huge meal.
If you like your chicken hot give this one a try – it definitely makes the nose tingle! The chicken is hand-cut, marinated overnight and served with peri peri – so it’s a double dose of spice. It’s a great little burger with fresh ingredients and a you can make additions as you wish – just ask the team.
Tuesday night at Smokey Den is Parma Night, so it would have been rude not to head back in and give it a go. We think $11.90 is insanely good value for the quality and the size of the meal that you get. It is a huge slab of chicken, with a delicious crumb and a large serving of chips. Make sure you are hungry – I could share this with someone and still be full, and it beat our willing taste-tester on the night into submission.
The kids meals and salads we tried were again all big portions. The kids nuggets are good quality chicken and the tenderloins (also available as a side) are really tasty. The salad bar seems to be popular in it’s own right too, with people popping in to grab take away.
In our opinion, you can’t really compare Smokey Den to Nando’s, but if you did, Smokey Den would be the clear winner, with quality, pricing and taste all significantly better. The team behind Smokey Den are working incredibly hard to deliver something different and it shows. We couldn’t fault our meals, the restaurant or the service on either of the times we have visited and we will definitely be back.
One small point to consider if you are dining with small children is that Smokey Den (like most of the smaller restaurants in Point Cook Town Centre) uses shared facilities inside the shopping centre. They are close by but it might be best to make sure they go before you get settled!
Smokey Den will be licensed for beer and wine soon, which I think is a great addition to Point Cook Town Centre. It’s been a little quiet since Pacific Werribee was redeveloped and it would be good to see more evening trade staying local.
We hope you head into Smokey Den next time you are in Point Cook, it’s carved a little niche that you ought to explore and the team behind it deserve every success.
Hot Tip: If you are into your music, have a good listen to what’s playing when you go in. Before moving to Australia five years ago and investing in businesses here, Sam and Ghada ran Universal Music in Egypt – so not only do they bring some serous business savvy, they also have pretty good taste in music!
Shop 219 / 4 Main Street,
Point Cook, VIC 3030
Stockland Point Cook Town Centre
03 9395 5425