79 Bourke St, Melbourne
American style slow cooked, smokey meat has become the ‘next big thing’ in Melbourne, resulting in many restaurants opening their doors for this style of cooking. Fancy Hank’s is no exception. Having begun their life as a food truck they have settled their smoker in one place, between four walls.
A glimpse inside from the street is through beautiful large art deco windows. Up some stairs you find yourself in a venue that is inviting and decorated in a simple, sophisticated way. There is a large, black smoking kettle constantly on the go and gives the restaurant a comforting wood fire perfume.
Our orders were taken quickly and after 20 minutes we were told by our waiter that there was a glitch with the computer and our order had to be entered again.
We watched countless mac and cheese dishes be taken to surrounding tables. After another 20 minutes we realised our order had not been put to the front of the queue. After 10 minutes we asked our waiter how long it would be and were assured that our order was next. It was explained to us that they were down a chef. We watched more bowls of mac and cheese go past, making our stomachs growl.
Were we offered a drink on the house while we waited? No. Did our entrees at least get pushed forward in the queue? No. We were tempted to risk the wrath of restaurant karma and walk. It was then all our dishes arrived, entrees and mains. We waited for over an hour from the time we ordered.
Was the wait worth it…
Unfortunately, a resounding no.
Even without the long wait, the food would have still been disappointing. It was just shattering as we were so hungry.
The house made BBQ sauce had a grainy texture, it seemed the powdered spices used were not toasted or incorporated properly. The beef brisket was very very dry. The pork shoulder had an odd flavour, it was acidic and bitter. The rub or the marinade used did not suit, this was a shame as the pork was tender and juicy. The meat used was free range Berkshire pig, you would expect that the flavours in the rub would compliment or be subtle and kept to a minimum in order to let the quality of the pork shine through.
The mac and cheese had the interesting addition of olives. Regrettably this was not a winning combination, the olives added nothing to the dish other than an odd texture in every second spoonful.
Sadly the pleasant décor, atmosphere and the novelty of dining near a wood fired smoker was not enough to make up for the flawed service and food.
Words and Images © Amanda Hann 2017