A Tweet about pies was all it took for Lex to organise lunch at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels. Rain, wind and general miserable weather could not hold us away. We met Craig, Caroline, Mr O and Em for a bite to eat and here is what unfolded…
Harry’s Tiger Pie ($6.20).
Lex has an obsession with the Tiger Pie at Harry’s – a beef pie with mash, mushy peas and gravy. So simple in many ways but oh so good. The Tiger was named after Harry “Tiger” Edwards, the man behind the now famous institution. While there are a few variations of the Tiger Pie (chicken, curry, veggie) the original is still the best. For me the mushy peas are what makes the tiger special, heavily seasoned (in a good way) and mushed to a perfect texture they just sit so well with the humbleness of the beef pie. On this occasion I only had a small bite but it was still enough to remind me why Lex orders it every time.
For almost as long as I can remember I’ve had the Tiger Pie at Harry’s (I do have a hazy memory of drunkenly destroying a cheese dog at Harry’s in Newcastle in 1999, but this could all be a dream). However over the last few years I’ve had the urge to do things differently. Even moreso I find it hard to order what somebody thinks I will order, or order the same as anyone else. This train of thought lead me to the hot dogs at Harry’s. The last time I had a dog was at The Dip but prior to that it may have been back in ’99. Moral of the story is I didn’t want a Tiger Pie and I seem to have neglected a vital food group over the years… the hot dog.
Hot Dog de Wheels ($6.30).
The Hot Dog de Wheels has it all – a Continental Viennese smoked Frankfurt, mushy peas, chilli con carne, garlic onions, cheese sauce and chilli sauce. This epic dog was a beast, I just stood and stared for a few minutes to allow myself to come to grips with the mission at hand. Almost instantly I liked it. The first bite that I was actually able to include all of the filling in was superb – tonnes of flavour and just loads and loads of things going on. After I powered through about half I had to slow down and take my time. When I did this I began to pick apart the good and the bad of the Hot Dog de Wheels.
Firstly, the garlic onions were terrible – under cooked and stringy – and I ended up picking it all off and binning it. Then there was the cheese sauce, it was nice but a bit mustardy and little non-cheesy. Beyond that everything was good, the dog itself was great, smoking made it robust and the chilli con carne was superb for the role it played. Nobody will ever say it is the best chilli they have had but the way it was cooked is perfectly suited to the dog it was paired with. Also the mushy peas are always great. Pros and cons aside I was unable to finish the beast and relegated myself to the bench for being such a wimp.
After what one would class as morning tea we were off to The Tilbury for a New Zealand wine tasting. A good 3½ hours later, a little boozy and in need of some sustenance we were back for round 2 and what I guess you may call afternoon tea.
Chilli Dog ($6.00).
I enjoyed the Hot Dog de Wheels but felt it was not suited to my tastes. With this in mind I scoured the menu to combine the parts I found the best. Knowing the dog and bun were gold I found no reason to try a plain hot dog so it was either the Chilli Dog or the Cheese Dog. Being such a good match I decided to get knees deep in a Chilli Dog. Sold! I was loving it. No bad onions getting in the way this time just a wonderful dog and his good mate chilli con carne going for a stroll in the park. I was hooked, I knew that Harry’s Tiger Pie was dead to me, I’d found a new hero and it was the humble Chilli Dog.
Chicken Pie ($4.50).
Lex was still stuck in a fantasy land of Harry’s being all about the Tiger Pie so she could not resist going for another pie. Surprisingly there was no tiger on this pie, and in fact it was not even a beef pie. The Chicken Pie took Lex’s fancy when Craig and Caroline had ordered the Chicken Tiger earlier in the day. As far a chicken pies goes this was a gem, big juicy chunks of chicken (breast and thigh), a sauce that was not too thick or thin and an abundance of thinly sliced mushrooms. Not only was the filling gold but the pastry was equally as good.
Beef, Cheese and Bacon Pie ($4.50).
Not satisfied with just sampling a chicken pie, Lex wanted to try something else. Naturally it was a pie but one I didn’t expect. Cheese and bacon pies were an indulgence at high school, and generally they were pitted up against a chicken burger or sausage roll and for the most part they won out. There is just something I love about the richness of a pie that consists of BEEF and BACON and CHEESE. Not sure if I made it clear but these big flavours are what I love. Nostalgia aside I did quite enjoy my little piece of the pie. Though I may have been a little full by this point, I was still able to enjoy the quality of the pie and the favourable chunks of soft beef throughout.
Chilli Dog / Chilli Dog with cheese / Chilli Dog with mustard, ketchup, chilli sauce and cheese sauce / Chilli Dog with cheese and onions.
In the week following it seemed that all of us had some form of Harry’s cravings. For me those cravings became something more of an addiction as a project at work had me in North Parramatta most days of the week, and it happened to be most convenient to park in the same car park that Harry’s Parramatta occupies. In the end I did 6 visits in 6 days! (if you count the initial double visit) While it is not something I would normally do I felt I needed to get it out of my system.
My favouritism of the Chilli Dog was the starting point, so I had another one just to make sure I was on the right track. Next up was a Chilli Dog with cheese, a definite jump in flavour profile with the shredded cheese making for quite a rich dog, and quite possibly the messiest one ever. Feeling the cheese had overstepped the mark making the Chilli Dog too messy I next opted for a cornucopia of sauces on my dog. A Chilli Dog with mustard, ketchup, chilli sauce and cheese sauce. Maybe not the smartest thing but it did allow me to realise what the Chilli Dog was all about.
My final order in this mission was a big risk, going back to the Chilli Dog with cheese but also including the least favourite part of my Hot Dog de Wheels, the garlic onions. Yes that is correct, I ordered a Chilli Dog with shredded cheese and onions. Perfect, that is what it was. The best of them all by a big margin! The onions were infinitely better than my first taste, the cheese was able to melt and hold everything together and a week or so of eating these damn things had taught me the art of hot dog eating.
R&D, that is the theme of this post, and maybe also overindulgence, because I am happy to not go to Harry’s any time in the foreseeable future. But was it all worth it? HELL YES!
Harry’s Cafe de Wheels
Corner Cowper Wharf Roadway & Brougham Road
Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
(02) 9357 3074
Harry’s Cafe de Wheels Website
Harry’s Cafe de Wheels
431 Church Street
Parramatta NSW 2150
(02) 9890 2427
Harry’s Cafe de Wheels Website