Happy Days. Who knew that Australians watched it too? As a Canadian kid, it was as foreign as… well, Australia, to see a depiction of 50s Americana. I was never a huge fan: I found Ralph and Potsie annoying, didn’t understand why the Fonz was cool or funny, and god: Joanie and Chachki, let’s not get started. Of course, I saw myself as Richie, square and earnest but mostly I watched it because I watched anything that was on TV that was vaguely appropriate, after school and in the early hours of the evening.
So, it was with more curiosity than excitement to find that there was a Happy Days-themed restaurant in my neighbourhood, Fonzarelli’s. Friends had planned on trying the local Japanese resto, which turns out to be a Sushi train, of sorts, so we went here instead. It’s odd. It used to be high-end dining: the Foveaux. So, now, it’s trying, valiantly, to update the idea of an American diner, in a cavernous two-levelled mostly brick converted warehouse space.
The food, themed with the names of Happy Days characters, is modern diner Americana. It was pretty tasty, though I thought the portions small and expensive. We had a watermelon salad which was nice, some school prawns, some spicy meatballs, popcorn chicken, potato chunks… the ribs were actually pretty great. We couldn’t quite figure out the vibe. The young, cashed-up residents of Surry Hills: are they old enough to have seen Happy Days? And then, even not, is it a fun place to have weekend drinks, or is it weirdly daggy? For their sake, I hope it’s got some cachet… as I worry that it might not be the right idea, feel and vibe to survive the tough Surry Hills market and rental prices.