The brisket at Vic’s Meat Market stays on your mind days after eating it.
Slow-smoked for 11 hours in a two-tonne smoker imported from Kansas, the meat is delectably tender. “If you’ve done it right, there will be a deep-pink colour just below the caramelisation,” says head chef Steve Koster. “The way I judge perfect is it’ll hold its shape while you’re cutting, but it falls apart in your mouth.”
Vic’s Meats Market has been operating at the Fish Market for three years. It was established by fourth-generation butchers: father and son Victor and Anthony Puharich (who also supply to 80 per cent of Australia’s top restaurants and Woollahra’s Victor Churchill, which is also owned by Victor Puharich).
While you’ve always been able to enjoy burgers and meaty snacks outside, Vic’s is now open as a smokehouse for dinner, offering a more formal, eat-in option. Imitating American chain steakhouses, you’ll find top-grade Scotch fillet, sirloin and rib eye for two with hand-cut fries, seasonal vegetables and salads.
Unsurprisingly, the brisket is the best seller. One Christmas Koster remembers going through 1800 bread rolls in a day and a half making the brisket sandwichs. The burgers are delicious too. Made from Wagyu beef, they’re cooked for 25 minutes on the smoker and served with simple accompaniments to champion the quality of the meat.
“We’re not reinventing the wheel,” says Koster. “All you need is seasoning, good pickles, some onions, house-made barbeque sauce and mustard. We finish it with some American cheese.”
Many customers are purists and eat the brisket on its own or with a little mound of coleslaw, but the sides deserve attention. “We do these truffle Tater Tots. They’re Dutch cream potatoes with white-truffle oil, parsley, salt, pepper and cheese mixed through.”
There are two types of poutine (a Canadian dish of loaded fries) offered: one topped with brisket, and the other with pulled pork and a Memphis barbeque sauce. There’s even something for vegetarians. “We smoke portobello mushrooms in thyme, garlic butter and chive oil. They retain their shape really well in the smoker and you get a meaty texture,” he says.
The menu is the same, day and night. Check the board for specials such as the snack pack with pulled pork, chips, pickles and sauce. And there’s a happy (from 5pm until 7pm) hour, which offers two-for-one tinnies of Young Henrys Newtowner.
The Vic’s Meats smokehouse and retail shop are to one side of the Fish Markets car park, near the water and away from the seafood vendors. When the Fish Markets gets its $250 million redesign, happening in the next two years, Vic’s will be one of the businesses with pride of place in the centre of the Danish-designed space.
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on May 31, 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.
Vic’s Meat Market
Sydney Fish Market, 50-60 Bank St, Pyrmont
Sun to Wed 10am–4pm
Thu to Sat 10am–9pm