THE BIG SMOKE
The grill and the smoker are both working overtime at this American-style barbecue joint’s posh new city home
FANCY HANK’S: REVIEWED BY MEGAN MILLER
HANK is finally living up to his name, with fancy new permanent digs at the top end of town.
It’s a sexy room, one floor up, with leather booths and big windows that look out to the treetops over bustling Bourke St, and a marble bar that resembles something out of a speakeasy rather than a barbecue joint.
But the jewel is the two-tonne, custom-made smoker that was craned in to impart low-and-slow goodness to brisket, free-range chicken, sausage links, and pork ribs and shoulder.
Unlike Fancy Hank’s former home at the Mercat Cross Hotel, near the Queen Vic Market, there’s table service. While staffing was patchy (either hovering or MIA), the menu was amply deciphered so you know your pit-roasted rutabaga (turnip) from your boudin (sausage).
The brisket was the smoker’s stand-out bounty, 200g of grain-fed, marble-score 2 beef from northern Queensland, cooked to just yielding with a feisty, black-pepper crust.
Sides and snacks almost steal the show, particularly mac ’n’ cheese aglow from a dusting of Cheetos crumbs, as well as the shrimp cocktail, pickled prawns and ribbons of fennel doused in a creamed-corn sauce, all under a lid of puffed-pork crackle.
But 2016’s late runner for most fun in a bun goes to Hank’s baloney sandwich. Shavings of bologna – made by Fitzroy butcher Meatsmith and smoked inhouse for six hours – land in high-piled folds between sweet brioche toast with banana ketchup. Pretty damned good.
Want to swing sweeter still? Get the pie of the day with cream; apple when we visited with latticed pastry.
Hank’s will get even closer to God for barbecue fans with its new rooftop bar Good Heavens, which has just opened.
The smoking hot combination of American-style barbecue and Australian ingredients really delivers. No baloney.