Bovine and Swine Barbecue review

Must-try dish: Meat plate with sides for one, $35.
Must-try dish: Meat plate with sides for one, $35.  Photo: James Brickwood

95 Great Western Hwy Emu Plains, NSW 2750

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Opening hours Wed-Thu 5-9pm, Fri-Sun 12-9pm
Features Family friendly
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Phone 02 9517 1243

Wes Griffiths first tried barbecue - proper, slow-cooked Southern barbecue - in Lockhart, Texas, in 2013.

One plate of smoked brisket and sausage at the now 70-year-old institution Smitty's Market was all it took for Griffiths to get the barbecue bug, which he brought back with him to Sydney.

After a couple of years of competition barbecue attempts plus stints at barbecue joints in Sydney and Texas, Griffiths opened his own barbecue joint in 2015, Bovine & Swine in Newtown.

Brisket and slaw sandwich.
Brisket and slaw sandwich.  Photo: James Brickwood

That year, 2015, was perhaps the peak of Sydney's obsession with American cuisine. Every weekend saw a new diner open its doors, or a pub rebrand its menu from classic pub fare to American dude food.

There was a lack of understanding of American cuisine in general, especially when it came to barbecue, and Bovine & Swine was one of the first and only restaurants offering an authentically smoked menu.

Naturally, it was very popular, but surprisingly, at the end of last year, Griffiths announced that Bovine & Swine was to shut its doors in Newtown and reopen in Emu Plains, just over an hour's drive from the Sydney CBD.

The new Emu Plains digs.
The new Emu Plains digs. Photo: James Brickwood

"I think we had done our thing in Newtown and I wanted to have a bigger venue," Griffiths explains.

"We are still taking calls from customers asking why, but we have a lot of people out west who are enjoying it and we still get some loyal customers coming out from the inner west."

While having Sydney's only proper barbecue joint is reason for Emu Plains residents to celebrate, it's also worth the trip out that way if you live closer to the now closed location.

Owner Wes Griffiths at Emu Plains.
Owner Wes Griffiths at Emu Plains. Photo: James Brickwood

The menu features a brilliant array of meats: brisket, short ribs, pork, chicken and more, cooked for up to 12 hours in a smoker that Griffiths built himself (I forgot to mention that, prior to that fateful meal in Lockhart, Griffiths was a mechanic, and he still regularly puts his welding skills to good use.)

Most of the meats are available by weight, on a sandwich or on a plate with your choice of sides (I'm a big fan of their brisket beans), and while Griffiths takes some influence from the other barbecue capitals of America (especially North Carolina - Bovine & Swine is the sometimes host to a whole-hog barbecue special), it's clear that he still loves Texas as much as Texas loves brisket.

(Texans are notoriously snobby about barbecuing any animal that isn't a cow - I once read a Texas Monthly article stating that any idiot could accidentally cook pulled pork but it takes actual skill to pull off a good beef brisket.)

The short rib plate.
The short rib plate. Photo: James Brickwood

"Brisket is king!" Griffiths tells me. "Not that I eat much of it anymore - it's the challenge and the dedication for me. If there was something else that I eat it would be chopped pork with our sauce, preferably whole hog. It's a great mouth feel and taste on a sandwich."

As for the future of barbecue in Sydney, Griffiths isn't snobby at all.

"There are places trying to chef it up a bit and overthink the whole process, which is great and I love that, but for me barbecue is a simple food that is prepared with good-quality raw meat, simple seasoning, fire and time," he says.

"I think barbecue is still in its infancy in Sydney and the more quality barbecue that is around the better it will be for everyone."

Go-to Dish: Meat plate for one, $35