Derrel’s Brings A Spicy Slice of Anglo-Indian History To Camperdown

Eat, Sydney / 10 January 2024

Craving comfort food with a twist? Derrel’s welcomes you with open arms and fragrant vindaloo.

Parramatta Road, the bustling artery of Sydney’s inner west, has always hummed with vibrant energy, a melting pot of cultures reflected in its diverse shopfronts. Yet, amidst the cafes and kebab joints, a new gem has emerged, offering a different hit: the kind seasoned with spice, nostalgia, and a touch of cheeky charm. Welcome to Derrel’s.

Walking into Derrel’s is like stepping into a memory, and while it may not be your own, it exists in both mine as a young immigrant child and Chef Brendan King’s upbringing in an Anglo-Indian home. Created as a tribute to his late grandfather, Derrel, it is an ode to the home cooking that flavoured King’s childhood.

Stepping into Derrel’s I was overcome with excitement at the touches that brought the place together. Floral garlands hung over the kitchen service counter, a design detail synonymous with the subcontinent. Vintage magazine menus reminded me of how most items back home would come wrapped in newspaper. Plastic water jugs that you would only ever see at roadside vendors and of course a jar of hot mango pickle on every table, a condiment that always makes my mouth water.

The menu is straightforward, a comforting tapestry of familiar flavours reimagined with King’s playful touch. There are tandoori chicken wings, crisp and blackened, just like Derrel used to make. Samosa chaat not only bursts with tangy freshness but comes complete with a bhujia crunch on top. And finally, the dish we’re all too familiar with, butter chicken, a staple in an Australian’s dining experience but here it’s a little bit different, thoroughly taking the Anglo-Indian approach of Indian food that was adapted for British palates.

But Derrel’s isn’t just about the past; it’s a place where tradition meets contemporary sensibilities. The rotating menu of specials such as their butter chicken tacos in collaboration with Ricos Tacos adds a fun twist to the staple, while the Nutella paratha, a guilty pleasure from his grandfather’s repertoire, brings a touch of sweetness to the savoury feast.

The best part however is that  Derrel’s welcomes you into this warmth not just in the evening twilight hours, but until 2:00 am on weekends. Whether you’re a nurse clocking out after a long shift or buzzing from a late-night gig, Derrel’s offers a spicy sanctuary, a haven where crispy kathi rolls refuel your dancing shoes and fragrant curries wash away the day’s grime. However, if you are heading in during the dinner rush, make sure to get in early as within fifteen minutes of opening the place is filled to the brim with families laughing and connecting beyond generations and friend groups discovering the simple pleasure of dipping a chip in curry.

So leave your shoes at the door (metaphorically, of course) and step into a world where memories simmer on the stovetop and laughter seasons every dish. Derrel’s is a taste of a home and time that was never touched upon in our history books, but a home all the same.