I lied. Sometimes, just sometimes, I will venture outside of my East/South-East bubble for food. If you’ll allow me to co-opt a musical classic: I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more, just to be the one who walks a thousand miles, to gorge myself on smokey American BBQ meaty goodness.
When a friend came and visited from Sydney earlier this year, we decided to make our way to Up In Smoke in Footscray for some finger-licking goodness. I would recommend making a booking if you have any more than four people (we had five), as there is a slight wait without a booking. As it was, we ended up seated outside on a high table in the beer garden – which under normal circumstances wouldn’t be so bad, but was a bit difficult considering it was a very warm day.
We started out with some smaller bits and pieces to share – the Guacamole with Tortilla Chips first. I enjoyed the guacamole, but others thought it difficult to share as it was still very chunky. There certainly weren’t enough chunks of avocado to go with the number of chips provided – somewhat of an oversight.
The Hush Puppies were ridiculously crispy and crunchy, almost exceedingly so. The ratio of batter to actual creamy goodness inside was a little off, and I think it would have benefited from a lighter hand with the deep fryer.
This is the piece de resistance – a sharing platter of the Big Tray including pulled pork, brisket and sausage. While it doesn’t look like much, it’s actually quite filling and more than suitable for a group of five people. My highlight was probably the brisket – smokey, and tender to the point of almost melting in your mouth. It went remarkably well with the soft sweetness of the milk buns.
One of the sides with the Big Tray is the Apple, Fennel and Dill Slaw. While fennel isn’t an ingredient I would normally use as I’m not a big fan of aniseed-type flavours, this was surprisingly fresh and mild in flavour, pairing well with the sweet apple and stronger dill. A lovely refreshing salad for a summer’s day.
The Smoked Chorizo Succotash is another side that comes with the Big Tray. This is my favourite type of easy salad mix that I make quite often at home, with a good mix of beans, corn and capsicum. The spicy chorizo and fresh spring onion in this mix was a real winner.
Up In Smoke is a prime example of an eatery that does their specialty very very well. The smoked meats, brisket in particular, were superb but the non-meaty entrees we ordered were mediocre at best. If you’re to visit Up In Smoke, I recommend gorging yourself on smoked meat goodness, and giving non-meaty entrees a hard miss. Sorry vegetarians and vegans!
Up In Smoke is located at 28 Hopkins St in Footscray, Melbourne.