Melbourne, do you remember a time before beef brisket? How about a pre-taco era? Or life without bacon-topped American-style mac’n’cheese? While such horrors still lurk deep within my brain’s craft-beer sodden memory banks, I sure as hell don’t want to dwell on the thought of where I headed for my #fatfeeds before Melbourne’s obsession with all things pulled, smoked and cheese-laden. And now, thanks to the latest addition to Footscray’s vibrant dining scene, Up In Smoke, you can satisfy your every BBQ and southern-style food craving, way out west.
Up In Smoke is the brainchild of Shayne McCallum, owner of burger lover’s favourite, 8bit, and Alan Sam, ex-owner of CBD bar Captain Melville. Eager to get a grip on smoking their own meats, as well as celebrating their shared love of beer, tacos and doughnut ice-cream sandwiches, the pair’s new venue is home to a massive smoker in which you’ll find everything from pork and beef to fresh veggies, slowly cooking over hot coals.
The venue is a prominent new addition to Footscray, borrowing from classic diner styling with the addition of an outdoor courtyard. Situated on the corner of Hopkins Street and Whitehall Street, you’d be hard pushed to miss it: Up In Smoke stands loud and proud as you enter the suburb from the CBD side, harking back to roadside American diners that tempt passers-by to make a pit-stop.
Inside, the vibe is buzzing but relaxed—platters of BBQ meat, tacos, charred corn and cheese laden potato skins are delivered to tables and bar-side patrons quickly, but there’s no rushing people out the doors.
Of course, the meats themselves are delicious, with beef and pork ribs, jalapeno and cheddar sausages, and smoked hot wings being served by the enamelled trayful until gone. Mini milk buns and McClure’s pickles let you choose your own adventure when it comes to constructing meat-stuffed sliders, and there are even smoked chicken, gin and beetroot cured salmon, and sweet potato salads for those feeling a healthier feed. As for dessert, the team have kept it simple with a three-item list: Choose from chocolate buttermilk waffles, banana cream pie, and a doughnut ice-cream sandwich that contains a scoop of the day’s pick of Bibelot ice-cream.
Up In Smoke’s food menu might be walking a well-trodden path, but its beer menu comes as a welcome departure from house standards and safe-option craft brews. You’ll find 10 taps set along the well-stocked bar, focusing on mainly Victorian sippers. An all-Aussie theme is echoed in the bottled menu too, with a handful of American numbers thrown in for good measure. Hey, any bar that can throw us a Pabst Blue Ribbon one minute, a Holgate Temptress the next, and then finish our night with a dram of Melbourne’s own award-winning Starward whisky is a winner in our booze books.
So, meat coma aside, what’s Up In Smoke good for? While it might not be our #1 date spot—unless your significant other’s idea of a good night is watching you smother meat grease across your chops, in which case, lock in your next romantic liaison, pronto—it’s a cracking pick for group get-togethers over a pint (or four…) and some BBQ pickings, even if there are vegos involved.
Shane and Alan, we salute you: May our next #fatfeed whims will take us back to Footscray.
Image credit: Renee Stamatis