(Photo: NAT STOCKLEY)
Burn City Test Kitchen, 31A Venron Street, South Kingsville. Phone: 9043 9554 (open days after noon)
Burn City Smokers has been one of the hotter and more well-known names on the Melbourne barbecue scene for quite a while.
But that has been based on activities of the festival and catering variety.
Now Burn City has a bricks-and-mortar thing going.
Open for a few weeks is the shop front of the Vernon Street kitchen they’ve been using for a year or so.
Replacing an Asian eatery, the place is done out in a way that manages to be both cozy and hipster spartan.
It’s early days here.
We’re told menus proper are on the way, but in the meantime a prominently displayed blackboard does menu service.
It’s not a full menu and the outfit’s website (here) warns the food line-up will be changing regularly.
See the list from which our Friday night meal was chosen below.
As well, the hours are limited – Friday dinner, Saturday lunch and dinner, and Sunday lunch and late lunch.
Despite all these provisos, the place seems to have made many friends.
Nat and I see plenty of Uber bags and other takeaways going out the door, and the locals with whom we share the communal table at the front are enthusiastic.
As are those we chat to at an outdoor table as we’re on our way home.
Do we share their enthusiasm?
There’s a couple of mis-steps in our meal, but nothing that diminishes our happiness at the prospect of returning – especially as this is an evolving situation.
A side of fries ($7) is fine, though I wish they’d been hotter.
A salad of broccoli, almonds, pickled red onion, chilli and garlic ($7) is a great idea, but the sum is less than the parts.
Largely this is because it doesn’t really come together as cohesive whole and the broccoli florets are too big and undercooked, for my taste anyway.
Chicken and potato salad ($18) is good – I like what I eat a lot, though I don’t think Nat is as impressed.
The smoked chook – even the breast – is moist and very good, while the seeded mustard-dressed potatoes are fine.
Truth is, though, our chicken dish has been ordered merely for diversity purposes with a story to write.
Had we been left to our own, non-blogging devices, we both would’ve ordered the beef short rib ($25, top photo).
This is, on the list from we’ve been working, the sole, really heavyweight barbecue offering – aside from the “in bread”, cheaper sandwiches.
And it’s a doozy.
The “12hr smoked beef rib” is crusty, musty, salty and delicious, the meat tender and excellent.
Accompanying, a bit unusually, are honey carrots.
I love them, even though they, a bit like the earlier broccoli, are tad too much on the al dente side.
For what’s it worth, the “in bread” efforts we see going by look very worthy of exploration.
As do the baked pasta and bangers and mash being enjoyed by the friendly locals at our table.
Yes, it’s licensed.
Nat describes the wine list as concise, considered and put together with assistance by someone with some knowledge.
I really wish that some of these local joints would also allow BYO wine. It rings alarm bells with me to know that “someone with some knowledge” helped put together the wine list.
All too often these sorts of places have exceedingly mediocre lists with silly price tags or totally obscure labels with even sillier price tags to impress the dudes and hipsters.