Meats to please you at reborn LP's Quality Meats

Luke Powell has relaunched LP's as a smallgoods wholesaler first and foremost.
Luke Powell has relaunched LP's as a smallgoods wholesaler first and foremost. Photo: James Alcock

This, my friends, is where you want to sit out the apocalypse – on a long wooden share table inside a smallgoods factory and smokehouse, complete with its own Inoculation Room and functioning bar.

All essential services are covered, from the preserving of foodstuffs to the linking of sausages and the pouring of beer.

Supplies are assured for some time – the temperature-controlled glass-walled cabinets are festooned with hanging sausages and salami, and shelves carry pickled chillies and bottled hot sauces.

After closing LP's Quality Meats as a dining space, Luke Powell has been concentrating on the wholesale side of the business, as well as on Bella Brutta, his eat-in and takeaway Newtown pizzeria.

It has given him some time to rethink the business model, and relaunch LP's as a smallgoods wholesaler first and foremost, with a smaller, tighter luncheonette and deli open to the public at weekends.

"It feels like this is what it was always meant to be from the beginning," he tells me. "It just took five years to realise."

'There's nothing better than hanging out with a platter of salumi.'
'There's nothing better than hanging out with a platter of salumi.' Photo: James Alcock

The menu might be tight, but it runs to a broader remit than just being a taster for the smokehouse.

Merimbula oysters are opened to order, whole flounder is roasted in the Josper oven with cider and garlic, and the bitterness of cime di rape is tempered with double-shelled broad beans in a lovely wintry vegetable dish.

There's a hanger steak with escarole and anchovy, but for me, there's nothing better than hanging out with a platter of salumi ($25), and Organic Bread Bar's sourdough baguette and Pepe Saya butter ($4).

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There's a sweet freshness to the finely sliced mortadella, soft salami cotto and spice-flecked saucisson sec that reminds you you're sitting a few metres away from where they were made.

The stand-out dish has to be grilled beef tongue, ($18) with a perky salsa verde. Tongue can be grossly fatty, but the high fat content is held in check by brining, then smoking, then poaching.

The genius lies in the fact it is then sliced lengthwise, not crosswise, and slapped on the plancha until the edges crisp and the meat is soft as to be almost spreadable.

Grilled beef tongue with a perky salsa verde.
Grilled beef tongue with a perky salsa verde. Photo: James Alcock

In its own way, an elegant fillet of salted Murray cod ($38) is just as compelling; salted for a week, brined for two days, and finished in the Josper charcoal oven until the skin is crisp and the flesh flakes away in snowy white lobes.

The no-faff accompaniment is simply a mess of rich, fruity bullhorn peppers, blistered in the Josper and tossed with onions, olive oil and sherry vinegar.

It's a weekend, and lunch, so a crisp 2019 Jumpin Juice riesling ($16/$75) from Gippsland winemakers Patrick Sullivan and Xavier Goodridge is a good call.

Broad beans and cime di rape and smoked pork jowl.
Broad beans and cime di rape and smoked pork jowl. Photo: James Alcock

For the tongue, there's a bright, upbeat gamay, the 2018 Domaine Clusel-Roch Coteaux du Lyonnais Traboules ($17/$80) that hails not from Beaujolais, but from the northern edge of the Rhone.

Dessert being another essential service these days, I suggest the almond cake ($16), crusty with polenta and served with soft, sweet chunks of quince that took a good 12 hours of slow cooking to achieve their deeply burgundy colour.

Small groups of three and four socially distance at the long tables, and couples line the high bar, with on-the-ball service from restaurant manager Katie Houghton.

Salted Murray cod with bullhorn peppers.
Salted Murray cod with bullhorn peppers. Photo: James Alcock

With more factory and kitchen than dining space, the experience is reminiscent of a winery cellar door, in that you can cruise in for a simple-but-pitch-perfect weekend lunch, sample goods made on the premises, then stock up for the apocalypse, taking home some cold-smoked Petuna ocean trout, chilli sauce, and a couple of packs of LP's pig's head sausages.

It's a good sign – and we need all the good signs we can find – that our smartest operators are using the lockdown to rethink and remobilise, not just re-open. Because just re-opening may not be enough anymore.

The low-down

LP's Quality Meats

Almond cake with poached quince and creme fraiche.
Almond cake with poached quince and creme fraiche. Photo: James Alcock

Address: Shop 1, 12-16 Chippen Street, Chippendale, 02 8399 0929

Open: Sat-Sun 11.30am-4.30pm; deli Sat-Sun 10am-6pm

Takeaway: Charcuterie, sausages and smallgoods available from the deli.

Dining window: Three sittings (1 hour 45 minutes).

Protocols: Tracking details taken; cutlery brought separately; hand sanitiser.

Vegetarian: One dish – grilled onions with green garlic and mustard greens.

Drinks: Grifter beers, brunchy cocktails (Smoked Manhattan, Bloody Mary with smoked hot sauce) plus an 18-strong global-roaming, mainly natural wine list.

Cost: About $125 for two, plus drinks.

Score: Scoring is paused while the industry gets back on its feet.