12 Aug Bluebonnet Barbecue, Fitzroy North
A trip to the US, learning directly from pit masters about their craft, has resulted in Chris Terlikar birthing a baby of his own – Bluebonnet Barbecue. After a devastating fire at his original Collingwood restaurant, Terlikar soldiered on to take up a temporary residency at Carlton’s John Curtin Hotel.
Now found at the former site of The North Fitzroy Star, Terlikar is continuing to pump out smokey American Barbecue. Australian meats are smoked in-house for up to 14 hours. Sausages and barbecue sauce is also made on-site.
It’s a long wait for food to arrive, but we eventually receive a feast bigger than we had anticipated. No fancy plates here. Food is served on paper, and everything is loaded on a single platter for everyone to share. Rangers Valley Black Onyx Brisket is smoked for 14 hours over ironbark and oak. It’s tasty and moist – one of the best examples of brisket I’ve tried recently. Interestingly, though the hot smoked berkshire pork belly is still tender, it’s more firm rather than soft and juicy. There are a few points of disappointment, such as the underseasoned smoked Berkshire pulled pork. The crispy lamb ribs are a bit fatty, and the peppery St Louis Pork Ribs are dry. On the other hand, the oak-smoked chicken Marylands are bursting with moisture.
With all that meat you’ll probably want some sort of relief. There’s the apple, kohlrabi and coriander slaw for some freshness and acidity, which helps to cut through the fattiness of the meat. Not quite as light, but certainly tasty, are the fried and charred brussel sprouts with miso glaze. The cheesymite cornbread waffles are flavoursome with a dense and cake-like texture, but unfortunately dry, and become heavy eating after a while. The Jalapeno cheese grits were OK when they first arrived, but became a bit claggy as they cooled, so I’d suggest eating these first. Other salads include the warm Kipfler and Jerusalem artichoke salad with buttered leek and horseradish aioli, and smoked beetroot with barley, smoked almonds, whipped feta and dill. One of the standouts of are the crispy fries loaded with chopped beef brisket, jalapeno, cheese, and sour cream.
Dessert isn’t included in the set menu but we’re too full to fit in anything else. If you come for the feed me menu, you certainly won’t leave Bluebonnet feeling hungry.