The brand Chargrill Charlie’s has been in operation in Sydney since 1989, but only opened in St. Ives, on Mona Vale Road recently. Specialising in Chicken, but done in almost any way imaginable, the hot spot earned the affectionate nickname ‘Chookas’ from its Wahroonga counterpart, which has been in operation by the station for many years. Chookas has been quickly adopted by the crowd in St Ives.
Although the chain offers catering for special occasions, a salad bar, curries, Asian cuisine and many other specialty options, the frequenters of the St. Ives Chookas most frequently choose the BBQ chickens with Portuguese Pirri Pirri sauce or their schnitzel rolls. This is especially true on a Saturday or Sunday, as the crowd is likely to be anything from hungover youths to families and older couples of the area. With such a diverse range of product on offer in store, prices can get hefty, but the quality of the food makes it all worth it for anyone seeking a good feed.
The average price of a full meal (main with chips and a drink) is generally around $12-15, but the portions are big enough to feed a footy-appetite. Mains by themselves are rarely priced over $9 per serve, which is reasonable, particularly when it comes to the burgers or rolls, which are fairly large.
The attraction to the store is obviously chicken, but the varieties of ways to cook a chicken are broad at Chooka’s; quarter chickens, half chickens, full chickens; Portuguese or roasted are the main options and the expansive range is further added to with fried wings and drumsticks done in a variety of ways, as well as schnitzels and curries, pies, puffs and salads containing chicken.
Chookas at St. Ives has a very modern layout; big doors and windows are open throughout the day onto Mona Vale road. Inside is designed rustically, a large food service area and heated, glass display on the left and sitting area on the right as you walk in. The massive kitchen is at the rear of the property and is always full of busy chefs preparing more fresh food. Some semblance of order is brought to the substantial numbers of people that crowd the place, by the use of a ticket machine to define an order of service.
When I was there recently, I ordered the chicken schnitzel roll and my dining partner had the wicked wings and a chicken curry puff. The service was prompt and efficient and my roll had a good size schnitzel, salad and gravy. The curry puffs, although a little sweet due to the use of green peas in the mixture, were light and tasty and the wings were crispy on the outside and juicy in the meat. We sat inside while we ate and watched the never-ending stream of patrons passing though as we ate a good meal which we both enjoyed.
Many people will already know the standard of Chargrill Charlie’s due to its popularity in the Ku-Ring-Gai area. The notoriously popular establishment has earned this reputation through its ability to provide high quality food at reasonable prices.