Unless you grew up in the ’70s or ’80s, the Cheech & Chong reference might go over your head. Up in Smoke was the first feature by the duo, and was one of the first proper stoner comedies (Seth Rogan and co. basically owe their careers to these guys). Co-owner of Footscray’s newly opened Up in Smoke, Shayne McCallum, is a big fan.
“I’m not a stoner, though,” he hastens to add. “I just love the films. I’ve also named the sandwiches after them. It’s a pretty apt name for a barbeque joint.”
Especially for a barbeque joint where the star feature is a $20,000 smoker. The big, red, double-barrelled beast – also known as a Yoder Frontiersman – burns overnight, slowly cooking and smoking brisket, pork shoulder, ribs and sausages.
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“There’s a little bit of everything,” McCallum says of the menu. “Lots of cheese, lots of chili, lots of meat. Retro-style potato skins, which are deep-fried and then filled with mashed potato, jalapeno, sour cream, cheese and chives. Or mozzarella sticks, filled with house-smoked mozzarella and served with plum sauce.
“I guess you’d describe the food as ‘American-ish’. We’re trying to not be so traditional. We’re not in Texas, and while I like their method of cooking low and slow, I wanted to stay away from that whole theme.
Up in Smoke is a sleek, masculine space, with a back bar and main dining area, with concrete table tops, black-leather chairs and charcoal-black brick walls. There’s a beer garden out front, and diners can get stuck into the many craft beers available. There’s also a good selection of bourbon and other brown liquors, and a decent wine list.
An adjoining shopfront will eventually become a grocery store, selling coffee and ready-made sandwiches, as well as charcuterie, spice rubs and milk. “And hot sauces,” says McCallum. “I’m going to go mad on that shit.”