Joe Slakey wants you to know American food isn’t just cheeseburgers and barbeque. “This Americana fad we've had has always been the same heavy meats. Barbeque is awesome, but I want to do more interesting stuff. There's a lot of things people have heard about, hush puppies and succotash, but no one has ever tried.”
Joe’s new venue (he and his partner Liz Slakey also own Glebe’s Flying Fajita Sistas Redline Taphouse and Kitchen) offers a nuanced version of American cuisine. The opening menu concentrates on the food of the South.
The breakfast offering (weekends only at this stage) includes porridge-like corn grits topped with fresh apple and cornmeal-battered soft-shell crab. And there are soft dough biscuits smothered in a sausage gravy. When the sun sets orders shift to jambalaya (a heavily spiced Louisiana rice dish made with andouille sausage, onion, celery and capsicum); firm, tart fried green tomatoes (battered in cornmeal and fried in bacon fat); and St Louis-style barbeque-sauce-smothered pork ribs.
There are also New York-style pizzas and succotash, a stir-fry-style corn and vegetable dish. There are plans to do more Cuban-influenced Floridian cuisine, Pennsylvanian-Dutch food and a crayfish boil. The drinks are far more local. “There are some great breweries in the inner west: Batch, Stockade, Young Henrys and Wayward. We want to showcase what's happening in the scene,” says Joe.
Redline is also brewing its own – just lagers and ales for now – but Joe, a recent graduate of the school of home brew, seems shy about it. Probably because he’s motivated by a love of the inner-west brewing community and doesn’t want to distract from it.
The Slakeys want locals to treat their new joint like an old-fashioned pub. That regular, locals-only vibe is the holy grail of hospitality, but with tap beers starting at $5, kids meals from $6, and a simple, sunny fit-out that opens onto a park, they may achieve it.