28 Hopkin Street
Footscray Vic 3011
As soon as I hear anyone utter the words Up In Smoke, I’m taken back to my teens and immediately hear Dr Dre singing in my ear (if you’ve got no idea what the hell I’m on about, google Dr Dre Up In Smoke Tour) ‘hold up, heeeeey….’. Still to this day I know the words to just about every song, not bad for a tour that happened 17 years ago (now I’m showing my age!). So lets just say I was quite intrigued when I heard there was an American BBQ restaurant in Footscray going by the same name. Intrigue grew into excitement when I learned it’s brought to us by the legends behind 8Bit. Clearly mastering one type of American cuisine wasn’t enough, they had to have a crack at conquering BBQ too, and if packed tables every night of the week are anything to go by, conquer they have done.
Now I must advise you that the husband and I are American BBQ die hards. We’ve visited just about every restaurant in Melbourne offering smoked meat and ribs, but unfortunately very few have been able to replicate the juicy smoked meats we enjoyed in the US. So we went with Up In Smoke with high hopes and even higher expectations that this may just be the great American BBQ we’ve been looking for.
Up In Smoke’s offer includes a variety of meat off the smoker (everything from chicken, cheese and jalapeno sausages, through to beef brisket and pork ribs) plus a variety of sandwiches, tacos and a few sides thrown in for good measure. Being the serious meat eaters we are, there was no going past ‘The Big Tray’, a selection of smoked meats, a few sides and of course the customary milk buns and pickles.
First observation was that the meat tray was smaller than expected, however it proved to be more than enough as in the end we struggled to finish it all. Filled with juicy pulled pork, beef brisket and spicy chicken sausages, we were happy with it but not blown away. The brisket had a nice smoke ring, but the smokey flavour was very subtle, a theme that carried through all three meats. The subtle flavour we could handle, but the rubbery texture of the brisket was quite disappointing. The pulled pork on the other hand was right on point.
The side of chilli mayo slaw was good but be warned it really packs a punch and the mixed greens tossed with ham hock were tasty but quite heavy. Given all the meat we consumed, it would have been nice to have some greens without more meat mixed in, but they were good all the same.
Despite not hitting the mark with the brisket, for the most part we enjoyed out visit. With their sizable outdoor area and decent array of craft beers on tap, it’d be the perfect spot for a few drinks and a feed with friends on a Friday night.