As Darryl Kerrigan famously said, it’s a vibe. Whatever the vibe is, Hughes Barbecue has it in spades. It’s got an in-descript air of southern charm, homeliness, nostalgia, and the strong smell of smoky meats.
Anton Hughes, pit boss and barbecue master is the man behind the barbecue? The former Vic Meats Market and Bovine and Swine Chef is now plying his trade in a separate venture. With Anton and his co-owner Tanya Lumley taking over the kitchen at the George Hotel, Waterloo.
“That was the plus with this place, it was really like a blank canvas…the dining area hadn’t been opened for 30 years. “
The pair have left the patina of the old pub and utilised it to full effect, by amplifying its simplistic charms whilst playing on motifs of Texan Barbecue such as a large neon Tabasco sauce sign. The food however, is anything but straight and narrow BBQ. Sure you can get all the standards, like a heavenly 12 hours smoked brisket, where the fat simply melts away into creamy nothingness.
“What I want to do is Australianise Texan Barbecue … yeah what I mean by that is to make it more Multi-cultural.” Hughes explains. “Because we can.” He adds.
On the menu you can see these nods to multicultural Australia, with side dishes of Kim-chi, the unbelievably pork like pulled jackfruit, so that vegans can get a taste of BBQ as well and special menu items popping up like smoked duck, spiced with star anise. However it doesn’t end there with imminent plans to use Australian specialities like Crocodile and using the smoker to make desserts like a smoky bacon and honey ice-cream.
“Why aren’t we embracing these flavours in a new school barbecue way, why does tradition have to be tradition, why isn’t it evolving. Keep pushing yourself.”
The combination of new space, and new attitude makes Hughes Barbecue fresh, exciting and playful. It’s the new ground and Hughes’ zest for discovering new flavours and new applications for Texan barbecue techniques.
The George Hotel, 760 Elizabeth St Waterloo.