Over the Australia Day long weekend, I decided to stick around and experience a long weekend in Canberra for the first time. I must say, it’s something I regret not doing before this because I’ve been in Canberra for awhile now. On Saturday night, we wandered into a pretty popular restaurant at 7.30 without a booking and it was barely half full. It was great! Being able to eat and chat without feeling a horrible sense of guilt and then having to rush out and make space for other people was really nice, since I’m easily swayed by stuff like that. Barely saw any of the standard hipsters or drunks either, so it doesn’t really get any better than that!
Anyway, on Sunday night, after walking from Old Parliament House to Braddon, which is something I regret immensely and wouldn’t recommend to anyone; we decided to stop by the Frugii Dessert Laboratory for some cakes and ice cream to cool down, after munching on some sweet goodies we were ready to call it quits and head home because well, something about that walk just made us really bitter about being outside. However, while heading back down Lonsdale Street, we noticed that there were heaps of people seated around Lonsdale Street Eatery, then it crossed my mind that it must be the American BBQ night!
So I’ve known for a little while now that Lonsdale Street Eatery does American BBQ but I never quite knew when. I just kind of saw it on Lonsdale Street Roaster’s Facebook page once or twice without much followup. Hence, I never really sought it out. Well, according to the crew at Lonsdale Street Eatery, apparently American BBQ is on every weekend, not sure if that means Friday and Saturday or Saturday and Sunday, so maybe play it safe and check it out on Saturday if you want to try out the American BBQ here. Surely they’re not going to do Friday and Sunday, that’s just weird.
Anyways, less rambling lets actually talk about the food
So this is what we got for the night, sadly they had run out of pulled pork that day. Actually, it was 7.30PM on Sunday and they were out of most things, like half of the sides were sold out as well. Seems like they make a certain amount for the weekend and just sell it until they sell out, so I guess if you want something quite specific, you might want to get in early. This plate plus a corn cob set us back about $50, it was a very decent feed for for $50, we were all pretty full at the end of it. When you look at the prices individually, it does seem a little pricey but if you’ve ever had American BBQ in Australia before, you know it’s going to cost you a pretty penny almost every time. Its almost the same as Smoque pricing, I guess the only difference is that you’re able to purchase by the gram, great for all the variety lovers out there. This let us try a couple of things without completely committing to a specific piece of meat and potentially disliking it.
Oh, I almost forgot! Its free BYO! I think the actual American BBQ at Lonsdale Street Eatery is called BBQ&BYO. However, if you want ice, that will set you back $5, which isn’t bad at all for corkage! Plus, there’s a great bottle store just two or three shops down from Lonsdale Street Eatery where you can get cold bottles of wines and single beers and etc for pretty decent prices as well.
Alrightie, first up the Smoked beef brisket ($7.50 for 100g). This was some pretty decent brisket. We ended up getting 100 grams since we wanted to try a few different things from Lonsdale Street Eatery’s BBQ&BYO menu. For 100 grams you get about 5 decent size pieces of meat. I actually really like that the crew at Lonsdale Street Eatery split up the meat into almost bite size pieces for you, it makes it a lot easier to share and what not.
The brisket was incredibly soft compared to most pieces of meat, but as far as slow roasted brisket goes, probably one of the more firmer, if that makes any sense. Generally I like my brisket to essentially be flaky and falling apart when you touch it, this wasn’t quite there, but it was still plenty tender. One thing I did appreciate, was that a lot of places will soak the already cooked brisket in a jus to increase how tender they appear, which has the unfortunate side effect of making things really wet and dirty. The brisket here at Lonsdale Street Eatery didn’t go through anything like that, so that was nice.
Flavour wise, it was quite basic, in the best possible use of the term. The crew at Lonsdale Street Eatery focused on bringing out the flavours of the beef itself while ensuring that as much smoky flavours as possible are imparted into the meat. I really enjoyed this as I love the pure taste of beef, and really appreciate it when it’s flavoured in a way that doesn’t overpower that.
Next, we moved onto the Smoked chicken ($8, quarter). I’m kind of glad we got this and the brisket. While the brisket focused on bring out the meaty goodness of the beef, the chicken was all about spices and flavour. The chicken was heavily flavoured with various types of spices and herbs, it kind of reminded me a BBQ chicken that you get from Woolworths, just with a much much stronger flavour to it. I guess this much stronger flavour also gave it a little bit of spice and kick. While the outside was flavoursome, the inside was really smokey and quite soft and tender. So, you know how I compared it to a Woolworth’s BBQ chicken? Well here’s where things got different, the long time spent smoking was really on show here as the meat was fantastically moist and soft with juices pushing out as you worked your way through.
I must say thought, for $8 its not a lot of chicken, I mean I could get a whole BBQ chicken from Woolworths for $8!! (depending on when I went). Here I only get one maryland. I guess I need to acknowledge the time and effort element but yeah it’s really hard for me to pay that much for chicken sometimes. Well, I guess I can’t complain too much, this is American BBQ after all.
Our final meat for the night, the Smoked pork ribs ($15, 3 ribs). I really quite liked the ribs here though I tend to like ribs everywhere. The ribs were heavily flavoured with a spiced dry rub and had quite a bit of a spice kick to them too. I appreciated the fact that these weren’t slathered in bbq sauce or anything, I understand that most places do this, but my preference is for a nice dry rub, I find that the saucy ribs are really hard to eat and often a bit too sweet for me. Though for anyone who was interested in some of that BBQ sweetness, you could dip the ribs into a sauce that came along with the ribs. The sauce was quite sweet, really lovely and smokey and quite chilli as well. There was enough of it to pour over the ribs if you’re into that as well. We had so much left over sauce by the end that we ended up using it for the brisket and chicken for some extra flavour.
Texture wise, it was okay, but I think I might be a little picky here. I keep comparing all my American BBQ experiences in Australia to places I visited in Texas, and sadly we just can’t quite match it here yet. The rib meat here at Lonsdale Street Eatery was quite soft and it came off the bone relatively easily if you bit into it, but the meat was pretty tightly wound together, and was quite firm to the bite. Like you could strip a whole piece of rib off the bone but within that piece, the meat wasn’t melt in your mouth soft or anything. Having said that, it was still a very solid rib for Australia and Canberra.
For our sides, we grabbed some Fries with ketchup and mayo ($4.50) and cornbread ($4.50). I actually really enjoyed the sides at Lonsdale Street Eatery’s BBQ&BYO. I guess I wasn’t expecting too much from them and they actually kind of wowed me. Especially the cornbread. But before I get onto that, it pains me to say that I did not get a chance to try the mac and cheese here!!! I absolutely love mac and cheese (on account of a lovely trip to Mac Bar in NY) and will order it whenever possible but unfortunately they had sold out for the day. We’ll have to go back in the near future to give the mac and cheese a go. Its always a good idea to have a repository of good mac and cheese places from around Canberra for my cravings.
The fries with ketchup and mayo were great. I thought we were going to get shoe string fries since that’s what Lonsdale Street Eatery serves with their brunch menu. However, for the BBQ&BYO I guess they swap them out for really thick cut chips. The chips were cooked well, crispy on the outside, soft and moist on the inside with a lovely spice mix lightly dusted over the top of them. Not too heavily flavoured, just a nice high quality chip. No idea how the ketchup and mayo was however, we just didn’t get any and couldn’t be bothered asking for it but that was fine, we dipped our chips into the rib sauce, which was way better anyway because BBQ > tomato every single time.
The cornbread was the stand out for me. It was so delicious, this was probably the best cornbread I’ve ever had, that includes me making my own from some pretty famous recipes! I guess it is a little different to standard cornbread which is normally baked in cast iron. Here it feels like its been fried and everything is better when its been fried! The cornbread was super flavoursome, really creamy, buttery and delicious with a mild corn aftertaste. The texture was amazing. Pretty soft on in the inside and really crispy and crunchy on the outside. I know the description sounds pretty whatever, but butter and creamy – things just don’t get better than that. If you like cornbread and you’re not too concerned about your health, this cornbread is a must! One really cool thing about this cornbread is that it looks like it’s just been sliced from a way bigger loaf of cornbread, which has allowed it to have far less of the crispy shell, and way more of that soft buttery middle.
Oh, the image is showing two servings of cornbread, you only get one for $4.50 but its not small, just imagine three slices of bread stuck together. Not bad for $4.50, especially when its that tasty and I guarantee you, one slice is more than enough, its extremely dense and filling.
Finally a Corn cob ($4.5). Couldn’t quite having American BBQ and skip the corn on a cob. This was a great way to end the night, something to round off all the rich and meaty goodness we had. Lonsdale Street Eatery’s BBQ&BYO menu does include dessert, I think they had brownies but I’ve never been a fan of brownies so I went for something sweet and savoury at the same time. The corn was perfectly cooked, each corn kernel was full of flavour, moisture and sweetness. To top it off, there was a spicy and creamy chipotle sauce and bits of coriander for some freshness and lovely vibrant colours. Yes, totally messy to eat but every mouthful was just complete joy that it was totally worth it. Actually when I was there, I saw a guy carve off the kernels with a knife and then ate it with a spoon. I had no idea that there were professional corn eaters out there, but sometimes you just have to watch in awe of the guys that can innovate the small things in life.
This was a pretty tasty experience, I’m glad to see another American BBQ joint in Canberra, especially a place that sells American BBQ meats by the gram. The food wasn’t the best I’ve had but definitely something I’d visit again without much hesitation. Lonsdale Street Eatery’s BBQ&BYO is still extremely tasty and not overly expensive compared to anything else I’ve had around Canberra, Sydney or Melbourne. So good stuff. We’ll definitely have to visit in the near future on a Friday or Saturday to see if we can try out the pulled pork and mac and cheese.