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Friday, March 31, 2006

Tony Roma's, Sydney

Baby back Ribs
Tony Roma's Original Baby back ribs $27.50 (full slab)
Cut from tenderloin and basted with original barbecue sauce,

we consider them the "filet mignon of ribs"

EDIT: Tony Roma's has closed

I love my veggies. And I love my meat.

The best meat is cooked whilst still attached to the bone. Bones add flavour, give moisture protection, and give some reassurance that the flesh you're eating really is what it claims to be (chicken nugget anyone?)

We had lunch at Tony Roma's, my first-ever visit to this finger-lickin' rib institution. Back in 1972 Mr Tony Roma opened his first restaurant in Florida's North Miami. Today there are over 260 branches in 27 countries around the world.

Bread board

There is only one Tony Roma's in Sydney, sitting on Sussex Street near the city exit of the Western Distributor. There's a strong smell of barbecue, a thicky heady scent of charred meat and sweet caramelised marinades.

Inside it's clean and family-friendly with American-style booth seating, varnished wood tables and plenty of framed photos on the wall. After our waitress taps our orders into her PDA we are given a rustic-looking chopping board of bread. It's not cut up though so we hack into it with the oversized knife and decorate it with alternate scrapings of herb butter and good ol' Meadow Lea.

Red Hot Ribs
Red Hots St Louis-style ribs $26.50 (full slab)
A zesty blend of chilli pepper, black pepper, crushed red peppers,

chipotle peppers (smoked, ripe jalapenos) and real Tabasco sauce.

The ribs? They're good. A little on the sweet side and the meat is eerily tender. It falls off the bone with the greatest of ease, although they're quite fatty too--a fact which my rapidly bloating stomach is quick to remind me.

Blue Ridge Smoky Ribs
Blue Ridge Smokies St Louis-style ribs $26.50 (full slab)
Bursting with smokey flavour, this sauce combines the

sweetness of real molasses with a sharp, spicy aftertaste.

Three of us pool our rib choices so we get to sample some of each. The Blue Ridge Smokies are sweet and smokey and the Red Hots have a little bit of afterkick too. The Baby Backs are tender, but no more so than the St Louis-style in our opinion.

Prawns and rib combo
Grilled Prawns and Rib Combo $28.95
A skewer of grilled prawns accented with capsicum and

red onions and served with a choice of any great ribs.

The grilled prawn partaker is happy too. The choice of two sides with each main are mere kitchen afterthoughts though, it seems. After all that meat I'm in need of some fresh vitamins but the coleslaw drowns in dressing, and the corn is soaked in butter. Other side options are chips, mashed potato or beans. We initially ask for salad but all our waitress can offer us is coleslaw.

Overall it's a little pricey but in an otherwise ribless downtown Sydney, meat-on-the-bone afficianados will not complain.

Tony Roma's (CLOSED)
121 – 123 Sussex Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9299 8500

Open 7 days: 11.30am - midnight
(last orders 10.30pm)
20 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (AugustusGloop) on 3/31/2006 07:03:00 pm


  • At 3/31/2006 11:20 pm, Blogger FooDcrazEE said…

    can i have meat back in my diet ? thats looks fantastically delish.....

  • At 4/01/2006 6:14 am, Blogger Ms One Boobie said…

    I used to love Tony Roma's.. but i think the standard has dropped since it first open doors.
    The one that i used to go to.. is so dark..! one can hardly enjoy their meal.. and like you said.. it is quite pricey.

  • At 4/01/2006 10:45 am, Blogger Food Hog said…

    Hi AG!

    Love your site!
    I have to agree with mamabok that TR has gone down hill and their food isnt great anymore. But your photos make their food look so delish!!

    Food Hog

  • At 4/01/2006 3:13 pm, Blogger Rose said…

    I find it very cute that you went to one of the quintessential American restaurant chains in Sydney. I went to one near my parents home many many years ago. It was good fare, but nothing spectacular.

    I'm curious, does it seem more interesting/exotic to eat at TR's in Sydney? It's not considered that extraordinary here in the US

  • At 4/01/2006 7:29 pm, Blogger Audrey Cooks said…

    wow! those ribs... reminds me of the restaurant at the rocks, Sydney. Can't remember the name at this moment. Gosh! I must have ribs tonite or else I cannot sleep!

  • At 4/01/2006 8:07 pm, Blogger krangsquared said…

    I've never tried Tony Roma's but the pics are sooo tempting. Though I wonder if it's any different from Lonestar (there's one in Parramatta, but I haven't been to that in a while). Another restaurant to add to your list!

  • At 4/01/2006 8:39 pm, Blogger Julia said…

    If you ever go back, please do not order a burger. It was the worst I've ever seen, let alone tasted (barely, since it was so shockingly bad).

  • At 4/02/2006 10:02 am, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    Ribs were ok but I was suspicious of how fall off the bone tender they were.

    We don't have much to compare them to down here.

    When are we doing that big US road trip? Hold on ribs......were coming.........

  • At 4/02/2006 5:22 pm, Blogger ChocolateSuze said…

    mmm those ribs look tasty and lol at the individually portioned meadow lea butter... i went there a while ago and didnt know it was famous for the ribs so i had the southwestern chicken. man what a mistake!

  • At 4/03/2006 5:48 am, Blogger Posiesplace said…

    Those ribs look great!

  • At 4/03/2006 11:37 am, Blogger Bex said…

    My first visit to Tony Roma's was in Orlando when i spotted it on across the highway - i mistakenly read the tag line as 'The Place for Kids '(not Ribs) and dragged my family there. It is just like Lonestar! So when it opened in Sussex St i thought it was trying to be abit too upmarket for something that should have sawdust on the floors.ha.

    I highly recommend 'Meat and Wine Co' in Darling Harbour - excellent full rack of pork ribs. And Kelly's in BJW (used to be in East Sydney).

  • At 4/05/2006 12:22 am, Blogger nika said…


    Please feel free to delete this after you read this. Please note that I am running the May DMBLGIT and Ed from TomaTom is doing the april one (http://www.ismyblogburning.com/events/does-my-blog-look-good-in-this-2006-4-april/)

    Sorry that my post yesterday was confusing! Crossed wires and such. You might want to change the link in your events section.


  • At 4/05/2006 6:05 am, Blogger Gustad said…

    mmm, gotta love some good ribs

  • At 4/07/2006 11:18 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi foodcrazee - Ribs. Good. *Grunt*

    Hi MamaBok - We went for lunch so we didn't have a problem with lighting, although in hindsight, it was a little dim for daylight =)

    Hi Food Hog - Thanks. I'm glad you're enjoying the site.

    Hi Rose - I wouldn't say it's "exotic" but good ribs are hard to find in Sydney. On the other hand we have plenty of fantastic pho noodle restaurants, Lebanese eats, Malaysian, Korean and Japanese fare. We have some very fine wagyu too!

    Hi Audrey Cooks - Hope you found some ribs. Not sure of the restaurant you're thinking of but it'll probably come to me in the next week now you've got me thinking!

    Hi krangsquared - Oh of course I've been to LoneStar! By jove, those were the days! I don't think I ever ordered the ribs... I think I tended to stick to steak.

    Hi Julia - Sorry to hear it. I don't tend to order burgers unless it comes with a slab of beetroot. Best eaten at the beach!

    Hi Veruca Salt - Stop taunting me so! Think of all the food we could eat...

    Hi ChocolateSuze - Doesn't their logo say "Tony Romas--famous for ribs"? lol. I would've thought it would be impossible to mess up Southern Chicken. It's fried. It should be so good!

    Hi PosiesPlace - Thanks. They were quite tasty!

    Hi Bex - That's a funny anecdote about your first encounter!

    I haven't tried Meat & Wine Co. I remember reading a review that said they marinated their steaks with a super sweet marinade, the thought of which turned me off. That end of Darling Harbour is definitely taking off though.

    Hi Nika - Thanks for clarifying that. I thought something was amiss when I checked IMBB recently. I'm on the case.

    Hi Gustad - I agree. Meat + bone + bbq = v v tasty!

  • At 4/11/2006 10:35 pm, Blogger Benn said…

    I've never really been tempted to eat at Tony Roma's. I think it's the whole franchise concept that gets me.

  • At 4/11/2006 11:39 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Benn - I hear you, but hey, now I know.

  • At 6/24/2006 12:27 am, Blogger Mark Vicuna said…

    hey helen

    ever tried meat & wine co. ? located at the imax complex in the cbd

    try their ribs out for size..

  • At 6/24/2006 5:47 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Mark - I remember reading a review saying their steaks had a bizarre sweet sauce all over them, so I haven't been game to try them. Ribs on the other... hmmm... I'll have to investigate! =)

  • At 6/25/2006 2:24 am, Blogger Mark Vicuna said…

    i can't say i've had or seen any sweet stuff on the meat.

    try the olive tapenade bruschetta and boreworst for entrees too! with a good drop of red of course.

  • At 7/01/2006 7:18 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Mark - Ooh boreworst. Yum. Will have to add it to the (ever-increasing) "to dine" list!


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