Photo: Eddie Jim
WHERE AND WHAT
South African-born chef Lance Rosen had a barbecue epiphany while travelling around the US. American-style slow-cooked smoked meats took hold of him and now his former South African-leaning restaurant, Rusk, has been transformed into Big Boy BBQ, a surprising place where the art of real barbecue is pioneering the movement in Australia.
WHERE TO SIT
It's light, it's bright, it's primary- coloured and there are TV screens: Big Boy BBQ has ditched the subtle smarts of Rusk for a fitout that screams alternately: ''USA'', ''fast food'' and ''franchise''. Only the first element is true and Big Boy certainly is embraceable for being the kind of place you can feel comfortable about spilling sauce down your front. Paper napkin dispensers are dotted throughout, along with squeezy bottles of the four house-made sauces. Seating on wooden stools aside, down the back there are deep booths where bigger groups of diners can be squeezed in.
WHEN TO GO
Sunday to Wednesday noon until 8pm and Thursday to Saturday noon until 9pm.
The beverages on offer stick to the American barbecue theme. Beer is the perfect barbecue drink but you'll find no US cliches, such as Budweiser, here: instead, there's the craft brew Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from California plus Crown, Cascade Light and Pipsqueak cider. There's also a house red and white wine available by the glass. If you're going for the soft stuff, Rosen recommends the root beer or sparkling grape soda and there's a soda fountain with serve-yourself Coke along with the other usual suspects.
As the Big Boy BBQ philosophy painted on the wall suggests, think of it as slow fast food: Rosen cooks his meats for up to 22 hours with hickory wood, imparting a subtle smoky backnote instead of dominating the palate. Kansas-style pork ribs rubbed with about 20 spices are the deserving house signature - sticky, chewy, charry and perfect with sliced white bread. Another Kansas-style dish named ''the Dorothy'' finds thinly sliced beef brisket in a bun with pickles and slaw, while ''the New Yorker'' celebrates the deli classic of pastrami with Swiss cheese and pickles on rye. The barbecue goes Australian with pulled lamb. For maximum impact, go for a platter with a bit of everything. Sides vary - the fries could do with a bit of work but the fried onion strings are great and the simple, vinegary coleslaw works well, cutting through the fattiness of the meat.
Families and thirtysomething rib-lovers.
Barbecue, baby, barbecue.
Big Boy BBQ, 764 Glenhuntly Road, Caulfield South, phone 9523 7410
- 9523 7410
- Cuisine - American (US)
- Opening Hours - Sunday to Wednesday, noon until 8pm and Thursday to Saturday, noon to until 9pm
- Author - Larissa Dubecki