Tex-Oz Smokehouse, 12 Synnot Street, Werribee
At what passes for a dining room at Tex-Oz Smokehouse, you’ll feel gravel underfoot.
You’ll sit on plastic chairs while eating at tables apparently made of something like packing case wood.
You’ll eat from cardboard containers while using plastic cutlery.
You’ll order from a food truck parked on an otherwise empty lot.
We think all that’s absolutely grand.
Because in being what and how it is, Tex-Oz give Melbourne life to a great no-frills BBQ tradition that has previously gained little or no traction here.
Sure, in Memphis, Virginia and Texas, BBQ of many kinds can be enjoyed in grand and/or chic and/or hipster settings – and you’ll often pay a high price for doing so.
But just as important – arguably even MORE important – are the cheapo roadside stands and shacks found throughout the land that cater to the quick-fix needs of regular folks not seeking a big night, but instead simply a good feed – at the right price.
And, yes, Tex-Oz Smokehouse does right in the money stakes, too.
Equally appropriately, the menu (see below) is compact.
A CTS team of three – myself, Bennie and Nat Stockley – enjoy a very nice, post-heatwave Saturday lunch.
The smoked brisket and pulled pork – sold at $6 for 100 grams and seen here in 200-gram quantities – are excellent.
The brisket, in particular, shines.
There’s not a lot of smoke going on, but the meat is more tender and juicy than it photographs and more-or-less completely fat-free.
And it goes fine with a house-made sauce that has a bit of a spice kick.
The stranded pig meat is fine, too, enough to have me recanting my oft-expressed judgment that pulled pork is largely a tasteless, over-hyped con.
Bennie opts for the hybrid dish that is the Tex-Oz snack pack ($16), adorned in his case with more of that pulled pork.
He likes it a bunch, though I’m guessing that while he’s enjoying his lunch he’s also reminding himself that, as previously expressed, he’s done with snack packs.
For sides, we get coleslaw and potato salad – big serves for $4 each.
The slaw is fresh and crunchy and very rough cut, making it a little unwieldy in terms of the plastic implements we are using.
The spud concoction is heavily mayo-ised and doesn’t really hit the spot with us.
Nat – who also goes the pulled pork and brisket route – gets fries, which he tells me are overdone in terms of the salt.
I am reminded of legendary story I was told about a very famous Texas BBQ joint at which I dined several decades ago.
Apparently, when the management decided to introduce some non-meat items to the menu – you know, stridently non-carnivore fare such as white sliced bread, raw onion and pickles – the locals damn near caused a riot.
So if the Tex-Oz accessories don’t quite hit the bullseye with us, we’re happy to embrace the “It’s All About The Meat” ethos and say simply: So what?
And in the meat sphere, this place produces the goods in an admirably no-frills manner.
Tex-Oz Smokehouse is open from noon Thursdays through to Sundays.
Check out their website here.