A chef who used to work at Bovine and Swine and Vic's Meat, two beautiful American smokers and a menu listing brisket, pork neck and ribs. Hughes Barbecue sounds like just another American barbeque joint, but this isn’t US-style smoked meat as you know it.
Authenticity is everything in the American barbequed meat scene in Australia. But this new barbeque restaurant, Hughes Barbecue, which occupies the kitchen and beer garden at the George Hotel (now under new management), is happily breaking the rules. “Bovine and Swine is traditional right down the line. The idea here is to do new-school barbeque using traditional Texan methods,” says Anton Hughes, co-owner and chef of Hughes.
All the traditional cuts – brisket, chopped pork and wings are served next to house kimchi, vegan pulled-pork-style jackfruit, rosemary-infused lamb rump and fries (which are usually frowned upon in the American barbeque world). Hughes also talks about his desire to work with smoked crocodile, duck, pork belly, stuffed quail, a variety of vegan dishes and cold-smoked ice-creams. But he's most excited about experimenting with different cuisines using American cooking techniques, something he'll be exploring in the future.
Before he does that he’ll need to buy some more smokers. The venue has more than 100 seats and, despite the fact Hughes and his partner, Tanya Lumley, have only been open for three days, it's already bustling like a neighbourhood favourite.
As far as casual barbeque joints go, it feels like the perfect space – a kind of ’60s–’70s pub feel with an open-air beer garden and a stage for bluegrass and country gigs, right next to a spacious hall fitted out with timber booths and tables with chequered tablecloths. “We were looking around for a suitable place out west and we couldn't find anything. Then we saw an ad on Gumtree for a commercial kitchen in a Redfern pub. We were like, ‘What? Should we have a look?’ It was unreal,” says Hughes.
The George Hotel, 760 Elizabeth Street, Waterloo
Tue to Sun 12pm–3pm, 5pm–9pm