The A and B of Adelaide take-away

My first AB

My first AB

Responses to my recent move to Adelaide have varied greatly depending who I am speaking to. Variations of: “Adelaide?”, “Why would you do that to yourself?” and “How’s that working out for you?” seem to bob up on a regular basis. But if the enquirer is South Australian, aside from the disparaging remarks about Victoria it is surprising how often “Have you tried and an AB yet?” comes up.

The AB is an Adelaide junk-food institution. Depending on whether you want the M15+ or PG version the name is an abbreviation of ‘Abortion’ or ‘Atomic Bomb’. It consists of a serve of chips covered in Yuros meat (chicken, lamb or both) and a combination of garlic and chilli sauce with lemon juice drizzled over the top.

To sample this culinary delight you need to head for O’Connell Street in North Adelaide where the AB is sold at two take-away joints within spitting distance of one another: the Blue and White Café and the North Adelaide Burger Bar (also known as the Red and White cafe).


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Adelaide punters are spoiled for choice as to where they source their heart disease; there is a healthy rivalry between the two places. I chose the Burger Bar because it is consistently busier and, more importantly, it is three doors closer to my house.

The Blue and White Cafe is just spitting distance from the Red and White Cafe

The Blue and White Cafe is just spitting distance from the Red and White Cafe

A number of AB options are available:

  • the Mini AB deal (includes a can of soft drink) for $10;
  • the Lamb AB for $12.50;
  • the Chicken AB for $12.50; or
  • the Combo AB (includes both lamb and chicken meat) for $12.50

As a beginner, I plumped for a $10 combo deal.

Even if you don’t end up trying an AB, the Burger Bar is worth a visit as a reminder of what a proper Fish and Chip Shop should be. The place is cluttered with kitsch: there are bain-maries galore and the walls are plastered in photos and “Grab a Chiko” posters. So comprehensively covered in Coca-Cola branding it would rival a corner store in Zambia, Guatemala or any other developing nation. The awesomeness doesn’t end there; the ‘Amusement Centre’ out the back has a claw crane where $1 gives you the chance to dip for a stuffed toy to the value of 20c. There is also NASCAR Racing, Big Buck Hunter and a Rolling Stones themed pinball machine.

The 'Amusement Centre' in the North Adelaide Burger Bar

The ‘Amusement Centre’ in the North Adelaide Burger Bar

While it isn’t immediately obvious, the menu only outlines the minimum AB serve possible. They will do as big a serve as you can pay for. Going by the photos that line the walls many a boozy Adelaide night has ended with a shared AB. There is a competition running for the biggest collective AB order. The current Burger Bar record stands at $2150.

The AB definitely showcases the best that the fifth food group has to offer. While the meal includes potato and meat, they really just provide a conduit for the saturated fat and garlic sauce.

If you were pissed or nursing a hangover the AB would be awesome. If you are neither then it is simply an express ticket to a long-term food-coma. Irrespective of your motivation the AB provides a unique taste of South Australia.

The North Adelaide Burger Bar

The North Adelaide Burger Bar

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