step-a-side po boys chorizo

Step-A-Side Diner, Cabramatta

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An epic diner experience, says Noodlies, Sydney food blog!

Move over food trucks, this food train is rolling through.

Step-A-Side Diner is an epic story that started in Wellington, New Zealand, meandered through Victoria with the latest chapter being played out on the corner of Hume Highway and Cabramatta Road at the gateway of multicultural Cabramatta.  The diner is both fantasy and homage for father and daughter team, George and Francesca, you see, George’s brother, Lucky was the last owner of Step-A-Side diner when the Wellington late night diner it closed in 1976.  Thirty six years after and over 2,200kms later, in the words of George “Today, 2012, it is time to rebirth the legacy of Step-A-Side, using the original recipes passed down by my brother Lucky. We hope you all enjoy our family heirloom recipes”.

It’s a sort of story that puts a lump in your throat, especially when you see the pain-staking effort they go through to make this shrine perfect, the silver bullet of a train has been brought all the way up from Victoria, inside there’s a record player and jukebox CD playing the classics (Dragon’s Are you old enough during our visit) to transport you to a bygone era, walls are adorned with movie and music stars spanning the decades – Marilyn Munroe, James Dean, the Beatles and Robert Redford, seating is a combination of long dark leatherette benches together with lipstick red padded stools while original train fixtures have been retained – long silver hand rails with brown plastic hand straps, fearsomely bright white neons that span the length of the carriage plus large rows of windows providing plenty of natural light.

The menu is classic American diner with an Aussie twist, choose from the plain burger, the heart stopping, protein boosting, Step-A-Side burger with two 180g patties, egg, pineapple, cheese and comes with thick, generously salted chips that are crispy outside and still soft deep inside, Roo burger, barramundi burger and god forbid, even a veggie burger.   Traditional hot dogs are also on the menu.  I go the Step-A-Side burger of course.

Step-A-Side Po’ Boys is a nod to its European past (a previous owner, Kai Nielsen was a Dane), Po’ Boys are 12″ baguettes, choose prawn or my favourite, grilled chorizo, sauteed onions, jalapeno and mild American mustard.  The servings are HUGE, neither Walter and I could finish our food.  Which is a shame because we couldn’t fit in dessert, waffles with  a range of  toppings, sundaes, banana splits or a range of melbas; peach, pear or mango.

Oh, and the food verdict? That’s rendered almost irrelevant, food is one thing, this is an authentic  Happy-Days experience on the Hume Highway and being served by the passionate owners, well they’re just something you don’t get to do everyday.  It’s pure fantasy, laced with protein and a mild American twang that’s mixed with that unmistakeable Aussie accent. And if you must know, the food is honest and generous, and in that quasi-theme park/shrine environment – it’s almost perfect.  All aboard!

step-a-side-diner burgerstep-a-side po boys chorizostep-a-side diner

Thanks to Angie’s post for the tip off!

Step-A-Side Diner
Cnr Hume Highway and Cabramatta Road, Cabramatta (enter via Cabramatta Road)
0449 977 648 (I guess there’s not phone connection on the train)
www.facebook.com/stepasidediner




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  1. Angie

    Love it! :)
    It’s not gourmet fair but it’s not bad either. It’s definately more about the experience than anything. You don’t often get to say you dined on a train, at least this one isn’t moving and knocking your dinner about ;).

  2. Vanessa

    I definitely think Americana is making a comeback in a huge way, since dining experiences see the need to be more creative, and with diner food I suppose knowing the cuisine you’re chasing the experience more than anything! I am also quite interested to see this novel idea opening in Caba, says a lot about the area being cutting edge.

    As much as I love the concept my eyes were instantly drawn to the old Hitachi train most of us Melburnians were subjected to, particularly in summer when, having been commissioned in the pre-air con era, the sash windows opened about an inch and you were treated to an sauna with the price of the fare. And the smell of the brakes! Anyone?! Certainly kills any Agatha Christie-esque mystique!

    Mercifully decommissioned only a few years ago, I am happy to see them being up-cycled creatively! When I am next in Sydney I fully intend to check this out… If only for nostalgia’s sake!

  3. Michael

    Hi Thang, the story is very interesting and definitely make me wanted to check it out. I have to say that I drove past every week but it is the perception of the train journey ( hot, dusty, noisy and sticky ) that stopped me from wanting to stop. Hope the owner can do something to change that perception for their customers.

  4. Scott

    Po’ boy is usually a term used in New Orleans. Maybe they picked it up somewhere along the way.

    I hope they’ve got air conditioning or similar in there now, would probably still get pretty hot in there in summer, lol.


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