At 5.50pm, there’s a mob of fidgety locals starting to snake up the street. You can smell the product of a heavyset barbeque, like a campfire, but denser. This is Bovine & Swine, a Texan barbeque joint run by former Vic’s Meats men Wes Griffiths and Anton Hughes, with friend and Enmore store owner (Faster Pussycat), Tim Chillingworth.
At 6.10pm, the doors open. The barbeques are thrown ajar and that campfire smell is now punctuated, alluringly so, with the smell of barbequing meat. “We’re trying to be as true to Texan barbeque as possible, but with a little bit of a twist,” says Griffiths. The twist is chopped pork, which is more common in the Carolina smokers. The Texan staple is brisket and salt-and-pepper rub, which the team uses on the brisket and the beef ribs. It’s probably the best expression of that style of brisket you’re likely to find in Sydney, black-crusted, moist, pungently smoky and just firm enough to retain bite.
The other regulars are chicken breast and pork rib, slow smoked from as early as 5am in Griffiths’ handmade offset smoker. “We also do specials on a whim, we did pulled lamb the other night as a one-off to keep things a bit different. We're already seeing the same faces,” Hughes says.
The meat can be ordered per 100 gram, in a soft-bunned sandwich, or as a one- or two-person barbecue platter with sides of house pickles, potato crisps and either slaw, mac’n’cheese or beans. “It’s a different mac’n’cheese to what you'd usually get. I've tweaked it a bit,” says Hughes. “It has smoky cheese through it and a little bit of paprika and broccoli.” Hughes seems slightly embarrassed by tarnishing a cult recipe a vegetable. To drink, there’s a short list of canned beers, including Young Henrys and a trio of barbeque-appropriate American imports.
Luckily all these options are available to take away, because chances are it’s going to be difficult to find a seat. The restaurant is only two weeks old but it’s already packed from opening time until the meat sells out (usually around 9pm). It’s also not particularly big; the whole place (built and designed by Griffiths, Hughes and Chillingworth) consists of just a few demountable tables and a duo of outside benches with stools.
In the near future, the trio plans to open for lunch.