This article originally appeared on The Plus Ones.
The team at Fancy Hank’s are no strangers to American barbecue.
Co-Founder Kent Bell has been operating Fancy Hank’s since 2012, originally as a roaming pop-up around
Melbourne. After two years Mike Patrick, previously of San Telmo, joined the team, rolling out brisket and ribs to delighted carnivores across the city.
After a stint above the Mercat Cross Hotel with Hank’s BBQ Joint, the boys decided to move to their current home on Bourke Street, where they are churning out American fare in the restaurant, and stellar drinks at their rooftop bar above.
Having been a big fan of their food for some time, I was excited to head along to their new menu launch, to taste dishes inspired by Patrick’s recent trip to the southern states of the USA, culminating in attending the Empire State Barbecue Championships in New York last year.
Trying to eat our way through the new menu was no mean feat. This isn’t just because of the generous servings, or rich flavours, but because you don’t want to miss out on trying anything.
We started with crispy, deep-fried buffalo cauliflower served on a vegan ranch dressing made from cauliflower, house fermented watermelon and cayenne hot sauce. This spicy, crunchy starter was complimented nicely by another small plate – the creamy Devilled Egg. But, if you’re picturing something your Grandmother would serve to her friends at Bridge, you’re happily mistaken. This boiled egg is steamed for exactly nine minutes then chilled in ice water before being peeled and cut
lengthways, at which point the yolks are removed. A seasoned mousse using the yolks, sour pickles, mayonnaise and a touch of chilli is then piped back into the hollow egg white half – a true work of art.
Highlights of the new main menu include a melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork shoulder, with brown sugar and chipotle vinegar (pictured above). The rich meat, combined with the smoky, tangy vinegar and the sweetness of the sugar is a perfect rendition of the most authentic American barbecue. It’s hard not to pair this with the coleslaw – less authentic (although no less delicious) as it references south-east Asian cuisine with cabbage, carrot, shallots, toasted peanuts, mint, coriander and a dressing made from smoky chipotles and fish sauce. It sounds like an odd combination, but the freshness is so much more welcome than the standard creamy slaw you would expect to find.
Another less conventional menu item, but another that is no less welcome is the Aussie/ American lamb ribs. Smoked at a slightly higher temperature than a pork rib to render, they are finished with a sweet cherry glaze and smoked eggplant, which makes the fatty, crispy meat sing. And if we’re talking favourite Aussie ingredients, we can’t
ignore the beet salad – roasted beetroots served warm with lightly smoked faro, parsley, toasted hazelnuts and goats cheese and seasoned with beet and lemon juice.
In addition to their impeccable wines and faultless service, Fancy Hank’s manage the impossible for a barbecue joint – serving vegetable dishes as exciting as the meaty heroes.
In May, this unstoppable team are opening a new four-level Singaporean style barbecue restaurant, karaoke bar and rooftop on Bourke Street. We look forward to checking it out.
Amy Foyster was a guest of Fancy Hank’s. All images provided by Fancy Hanks.