When you start dinner early there can be an almost eerie feeling of arriving in an empty restaurant, down a side street, in an empty area. With a tree adorned with fairy lights out the front, and bright white walls on the exterior, it is a good looking place. The friendly greeting and offer to close the windows as the night grew chilly helped the unease of being the only diners.
It is a new thing for Meatworksco to open at night and before long there were three or four other tables seated adding some atmosphere to the nice, clean fitout with curious Roman pillars on part of one wall. It’s a large restaurant, so it will need to build its clientele quickly.
American style barbeque has grown in popularity with such gusto that now a new addition to this genre is almost expected on a regular basis. Here there is a focus on platters to share between two and we choose the red meat offering, along with heaps of sides. Unusually, for a restaurant cooking meats for 16 and 20 hours, there are large seafood options including a dedicated platter. I say unusually because this restaurant is called Meatworksco.
This is where the formula here is unusual with a quasi-counter ordering system. I know counter ordering well, and I know table service well, but once this restaurant gets busy, I’m not sure whether the quasi system is going to work. We had our table set when we arrived, ordered drinks from a waitperson (who brought them to us), and had menus on the table, but equally we needed to order our food (and any more drinks) from the counter, and the waitperson came and grabbed our menus once we had ordered. To me, an organisational freak, this just seems unworkable. Add to this that we didn’t pay until the end so it is almost like table service, without being able to order or pay at the table.
The meat platter is huge, and although it is for two, it is shared between the three of us. It has pulled pork and brisket, beef ribs, lamb ribs and short ribs. Everything on the platter has been slow cooked to excellent effect. The difficult aspect is more in comparing the taste of each meat on the platter, with those on other restaurant platters.
What I particularly like on this platter, which is not comparatively cheap, is the size of the ribs, which have obviously been cooked for a long time, with meat easily coming away clean from the bone. There is a fair bit of fat through the “Tomahawk beef rib” but that adds to the flavour and while it is an effort to get to the meat (steak knives are needed) it is great when you do. My favourite part of the platter however is a tie between the 20 hour smoked pulled brisket (deep in flavour) and the beautifully glazed pork ribs in smokey plum.
The 16 hour smoked hand torn pork shoulder was a bit too gamey for my taste in pulled pork and needed the several sauces offered to soften it a bit. The sticky lamb ribs were outshone by everything else on the platter, but were completely fine at the same time.
We really gave the sides a good shake. Again there were good through to average, with the roasted heirloom vegetables terrific, but the polenta chips uninspiring. The shoestring fries were fine, but a little soggy, the roasted corn with parmesan and chipotle mayo was overcooked, but the flavour of the sweet corn was still good. Lastly the wok tossed Asian greens with hoisin was an interesting offering, and actually worked well to break up the meat eating.
There is good food to be enjoyed here at reasonable prices, in a nice environment. It could improve the tempo of the meal by simply making the leap to full table service, but everyone on the floor is friendly and helpful all the same.