While the name suggests otherwise, Fancy Hank’s was pretty rustic when it started in 2012; just a barbeque and a couple of benches in a corner of Carlton’s Princes Park. Now it’s preparing to take over a two-storey building in the CBD.
The Art Deco building at 79 Bourke Street was constructed in the ’30s. It’s been a ballroom and the home of Gaslight Records over the years. Spread across two levels, Fancy Hank’s will take over the first level. An as-yet-unnamed bar will operate on the roof. Fancy Hank’s founder Kent Bell says he’s installing leather banquettes, Shaker-style furniture and a dash of marble in the restaurant space. A perforated glass window will lead diners upstairs into the rooftop bar.
“It’s a beautiful location, you look straight down Bourke Street and there’s a huge plane tree in front of it,” he says. “We’re just trying to keep it light and open, and have the space really frame the view.”
The team plans to lift its plus-sized smoker into the middle of the restaurant space, where it will continue to pump out brisket, beef ribs and pork. Partner Mike Patrick, who oversees the menu, says there’ll be all the old barbeque favourites, served with some extra finesse, and table service.
From a barbeque-fanatic’s POV, one of the real benefits of the move will be day-round access to just-out-of-the-smoker meat – the 16-hour cooking times will be staggered over the course of service.
“We might do whole prime ribs for dinner time,” says Patrick. “There’ll be stuff coming off at intervals, available all day.”
For fans of Hank’s current home: the careworn but much-loved Mercat Cross will stay open, serving a condensed menu of more “pubby” food – pulled-pork burgers, say, still smoked in-house.
Construction on the new Bourke Street site will begin in the coming weeks, and should begin smoking in October.
1/79 Bourke Street, Melbourne