Meat lovers, meet Meatmother: an all-American house of smoky ribs that’s rubbing Richmond locals up the right way with bourbon, craft beers and a bold mix of gangsta rap and Rihanna
Think you’ve had enough American? You’re wrong. Head chef Yannick Dagenais is doing barbecue with all the trimmings and he’s doing it right.
Sure, they’re using electronic ovens containing smokers – boxes where woodchips (beech and oak in this case) smoulder over an element. It’s something that has a few barbecue purists screaming blasphemy, but you can’t argue with the results. Fat beef short ribs, pork racks and peppery beef brisket emerge tender and sticky.
Get yourself a winningly named ‘meat tray’. Ribs or rump (your choice) are served in a blue-rimmed white enamel camping dish with pickled fingers of okra, and cauliflower and a round of Texas toast – that’s thick white bread spread with beef dripping and fried. It’s also the reason the Lone Star state is winning America’s obesity race. You get one side, but they’re all so good we say up that ante and get a few. We’re all about mini skillets of creamy mac’n’cheese with a crouton crust and jars of scorched Brussels spouts razzed up with crisp bacon lardons.
It’s not all as much of an assault as it sounds. Especially if you add some house-made Panther hot sauce – a vinegar and chilli flake number that’s as good for spiking your dinner as a shot of bourbon.
Décor-wise, they’ve done a good job of making butchery look chic. Skulls, hacksaws and mallets are hung up on the walls along with some big canvases featuring black and white meat art. Upstairs you’ll be sharing canteen-style tables. Downstairs, the room is cleaved in two by a long bar, and bordered by benches.
Pull up a leather-topped stool and order a beer. Tiff Waldron – the don’t-take-no-shit brew fiend managing more beer Twitter accounts than you can poke a character at – consulted on the list, so it’s predictably ace. Go a hop-heavy My Antonia from US brewery DogFish Head or fight fire with fire with 3 Ravens’ Dark Smoke beer.
This joint is busy. Waiters expertly jostle through the crowd with huge trays held precariously over their head and by 7.30pm you can expect waiting diners’ eyes to be burning a hole through your frozen lime pie. But that’s all part of the charm. Saddle up and ride out on those US plains once more. We promise it's worth it.
They’re barbequing up more of the good stuff at newly-opened sister restaurant, Meatmaiden on Little Collins Street.