After a brief foray south of the river, Fancy Hanks Bar-B-Que has returned to the north. For the next three months, Hanks will be smoking up the Mercat Cross Hotel at the Queen Victoria Markets.

For those who haven’t had reason to venture into the Mercat before, you’re in for a pleasant surprise: it’s a little rough around the edges, but extremely inviting. “It’s kind of got that dive-iness to it,” says Fancy Hank’s Kent Bell.

But a change of venue isn’t the only big news. Mike Patrick, former head chef of San Telmo and Ladro, has come on board as a partner in Fancy Hank’s. Old friends, Bell and Patrick met 10 years ago at Syracuse, where Patrick was an apprentice and Bell was a waiter, fresh off the boat from New Zealand.

While it’s his first foray into American barbecue, the chef has cooked only with wood for over seven years, either in the pizza oven or the South American grill. “What appeals to me is just cooking with raw materials, and not cheating,” says Patrick. “There’s something about the heat source, there’s a dryness to it. The brisket, it’s just black and hard, you’ve got to sharpen your knife just to get through it, then it’s succulent underneath. It’s a textural thing.”

Until November, the Fancy Hank’s will be dishing up their trademark brisket, pulled pork, ribs and beer-can chicken, plus a select range of bourbons and whiskeys. Then, they’ll pack up the smoker and camp out at the Princes Park Bowls Club for the rest of the summer. In the meantime, get down to the market and eat some meat.

Fancy Hank’s Bar-B-Que
The Mercat Cross Hotel
456 Queen Street, Melbourne
(03) 9348 9998

Thurs to Sat noon–3pm, 6pm–9pm
Sun noon–3pm