The brisket meat tray with mac and cheese.
The brisket meat tray with mac and cheese. Photo: Pat Scala

167 Swan St Richmond, VIC 3121

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Meatmother is a fearsome-sounding name, like it belongs to a hardcore metal band - introducing Smokin' Beef Brisket on bass, Panther Hot Sauce on guitar and Texas Toast on drums.

Melbourne's newest barbecue restaurant, run by Neil Hamblen and Nick Johnston, is hardcore but it's no Americana "BBQ shak".

The refined fit-out is cool and clever, with just the right amount of quirk - meat cleavers, grinders, lightboxes, and framed black-and-white drawings of internal organs with a twist. There are treetop views from the second storey and, downstairs, a lowlit bar is stocked with craft beers and bourbons.

Meatmother's refined fit-out is cool and clever, with just the right amount of quirk.
Meatmother's refined fit-out is cool and clever, with just the right amount of quirk. Photo: Pat Scala

The bare-bones "meat" and "sides" menu is unapologetically carnivorous. There are "hock croquettes", salty, crumbed balls of deep-fried pork and potato, made righteous when dunked in Panther chilli sauce.

Brussels sprouts and lardons are plunged in the deep fryer, and Canadian chef Yannick Dagenais says, "There's something fairly special about deep-fried bacon." He hails from the mountain town of Whistler, which hosts the Canadian National BBQ Championships, and has earned his chops at Dusty's Bar & BBQ.

Double-smoked bacon (soon to be triple-smoked and made in-house) is in the tomatoey beans, sweetened with brown sugar. Fat white toast is fried in rendered meat fat. And there's even pig in the drinks, with a rasher of candied bacon in the extremely quaffable "bacon sour" bourbon cocktail.

For the main game, sticky, tender spare ribs sell out every day, and pork butt (the shoulder) is rubbed with a South Carolina blend of paprika, brown sugar, salt and cumin, smoked for eight hours, then pulled (shredded), to be piled on a chunky sandwich with a mild chipotle slaw or eaten straight up.

Brisket is simply done with a coarse salt-and-pepper rub, smoked for nine hours using beechwood chips, and finished with apple cider vinegar. It's delicious.

Smoking enough meat is a challenge, and a third behemoth smoker is en route from the US. Once it arrives, about mid-May, Meatmother will open for lunch.

For vegetarians, there is a main-sized serve of the soon-to-be-legendary mac-and-cheese, a heinously rich dish of baked macaroni, bitey cheddar mornay, with a crunchy sprinkle of garlicky breadcrumbs on top.

Social media has been atwitter that Meatmother is a copy of Pitt Cue Co. in London, but Hamblen says inspiration started brewing during time in the Texas barbecue belt in his 20s, and that he has borrowed ideas from places such as Fette Sau BBQ in Williamsburg. Who cares? Hot sticky toffee pudding, dripping with caramel sauce, and a scoop of bourbon ice-cream caps off a top gig.

Do … you know all the meats are free range?
Don't … forget to try the excellent cocktails
Dish … Meat tray (you choose); I liked the brisket
Vibe … Fun, cool and laid-back

Twitter: @ninarousseau, or

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