I can’t understand why there isn’t a southern American-style barbecue takeaway place in every neighbourhood in Australia, much like there’s a Chinese and a Thai and an Indian place and a sushi place (okay, four sushi places). Australians love hamburgers. Australians love fries. Australians love barbecued meat.
In Brisbane, there’s for a long time been pretty much just the one such place: The Smoke BBQ in New Farm (formerly Blue Smoke), which is packed nightly with people eating baby back ribs and hot wings. I like The Smoke and have been there countless times, but they're often full and turn people (and by people I mean a very hungry and dejected me) away.
So I wonder why it took so long for someone else to realise they should open another one. Enter former North Carolinan Mike Perry, who opened his 'American-style diner' Carolina Kitchen quietly in Coorparoo last December and has been steadily growing a band of local loyalists, several of whom have been urging me to go for months with slavering descriptions of their wings and ribs. A scan of their Facebook page (they don't have a website) reveals they have quite a few happy American expat fans too.
Most customers stop by to pick up takeaway on the way home but there are a few tables inside for drop-ins. We visited on a Tuesday night when we thought an empty table would be guaranteed, having heard weekends were usually flat out. The fact that it's so popular in its suburban location, off a main road, is a testament to the fact that there's not much else like it in Brisbane.
The menu is classic diner food: hoagies (subway sandwiches), chilli dogs, hamburgers and cheeseburgers, ribs, buffalo wings, fries, corn bread and potato salad. The prices reflect the kind of food that it is - fast and fun.
There are two items you must order at Carolina Kitchen: the buffalo wings, $7.95 for six, with blue cheese dipping sauce in mild or hot, which are absolutely addictive, sticky and tender and with just enough spice from the hot sauce.
Then there's the 'Aunt Lilly Mae's BBQ baby back ribs', which arrive smothered in homemade barbecue sauce with a side of potato salad, ready to be split along the bones and gnawed. Prepare to get your hands satisfyingly messy.
To go with them we have a serve of 'New York fries' which arrive in a basket, skinny shoestrings topped with salsa, grated cheddar and sour cream ($7.95). They're fantastic and a reminder that, delicious though they are, hot chips don't always have to be beer-battered and aioli-ed. We also tried a chilli dog, $5.95, which is good, covered with so much of its mild chilli sauce that its soft white bun falls apart and needs to be eaten with a knife and fork.
I'd never usually order a soft drink with dinner but cans of Dr Pepper and creaming soda are pretty much requisite with a meal like this.
We'd wanted corn bread with dinner and pumpkin pie to follow but Mike apologised for being out of both - he'd been so busy over the weekend he hadn't had time to make more. The price of popularity. The Dello Mano brownies they stock, however, are more than a fine substitute. And it gives me a reason to go back to try the pumpkin pie. And a hoagie. And maybe some more of those wings. Cheers to the stars and stripes.
- (07) 38478227
- Cuisine - American (US)
- Chef(s) - Mike Perry
- Owners - Mike Perry, Isaac Perry and Nigel Perry
- Opening Hours - Open daily 11.30am - 8pm.
- Author - Georgia Waters