Big Boy BBQ, 764 Glenhuntly Rd, Caulfield South. Phone: 9523 7410
Had ribs on Haight St in San Francisco on my first visit – 1977 – to the US.
Have eaten at famous Kreuz’s near San Antonio – a spectacular temple to the carnivore ethos.
Have had random and very sporadic contact with BBQ traditions, food and culture.
But can in no way claim any kind of expertise despite being a life-long Americanophile.
That’s simply because the area of the US I subsequently came to favour with my time and money – New Orleans and South Louisiana – is bereft of any kind of BBQ tradition at all. I mean … there’s nothing.
Oh, OK there’s a few places.
But really, the various inter-twined food traditions of the creole, Italian, cajun and French varieties seem to have left no room at all for a BBQ equivalent.
That’s a cause of regret for some New Orleanians I have known, particularly those not natives – as is the case with so many Crescent City residents.
There are, of course, upsides to living in New Orleans – culinary and otherwise.
But I digress …
As with attempts at New Orleans and South Louisiana food in Melbourne, my experience here with BBQ in general and ribs in particular has not been joyful.
Still, I’m optimistic about a first visit to Big Boy BBQ – the word, actually many words, are good.
The joint is done out in modern diner style – stools at the front, comfy booths at the back.
Unfortunately, this is a mid-week lunch, so neither budget nor tummy stretch to ribs, which range from $25 for a half rack up to $55 for the full version. Our pal Nat rates them, so I’ll be back soonish I suspect to gnaw galore with Bennie.
Regular onion strings – $4.95.
Regular coleslaw – $3.95.
Sandwich … The Carolina (pulled pork scotch fillet with coleslaw and BBQ sauce, $9.90).
I’m awful confused by the onion strings – no onion flavour, no sweetness. They taste like fries.
Whoops … they ARE fries. The Big Boy serving me later apologises, promising me a free serve of the onion jobbies next visit. He says he’ll even put my name in his book. I wonder if it’s called The Balls-Up Book?
The fries are OK, but have been heavily doused with some sort of supercharged variant of chicken salt.
The coleslaw is perfect, crunchy yet not too much so, tangy, tasty and all-round brilliant.
It’s made, I suspect and later learn, using the European method of letting the cabbage and carrot sit for a good, long while in a whole lot of salt, sugar and vinegar. Rinsed, it is then dressed in more modest amounts of vinegar, oil, salt, pepper.
A lesson there, I reckon, for a very many charcoal chicken shops.
My sandwich is of modest proportions for the price.
But the meat is real fine – in strands as it falls apart and with good sauce and some more of that slaw.
Serious appetites could do some serious financial damage here, but as a treat and for food that has a sense of authentic BBQ about it, it’s pretty cool.
As well, there are combo deals that make a lot of sense.
The Little Boy combo ($49), for instance, has pulled lamb shoulder, saucy beef brisket and a half-rack of lamb ribs with two regular sides.
The Big Boy BBQ website is here.