America does everything bigger and better (so they say), and this definitely sings true when it comes to the humble BBQ. In little ol’ New Zealand we charr chicken nibbles and limp sausages. In the United States they cook their meat in a massive, rotating smoker which tenderises, flavours and cooks whole cuts in one foul swoop.
Cue Morepork—a humble eatery with BIG personality that recently opened in Ponsonby. The first thing we noticed upon entering was the brown butcher's paper slung over the tables, and the roll of thick paper towels on top of each, alluding to the finger lickin’ mess that’s about to come. Brick walls are decorated with vintage signs and a string of fairy lights are shaped into the outline of a pig. The kitchen is open, their large custom smoker (made by the owners themselves) taking up a large portion of the space. Inside it you’ll find whole chickens, large slabs of brisket, whole pork shoulders and hot dog sausages.
Chef and owner Clint Davies has recently returned home after a long 15 year stint overseas. He’s brought home two real live Americans with him too—and all of them as passionate as each other about the authentic grub they serve up. Head Chef Jodi Bourassa has a delightful Boston twang and is all smiles despite being up all night smoking meat. Most cuts need 14 hours, and they need attention, so a small snooze here and there is all that’s happening for the foreseeable future, but Jodi is totally fine with that. Back home she worked five jobs, so Kiwi living is a walk in the park in comparison.
Things are simple around here. Choose your meat, how much you want and add some sides. Hush puppies, a sloppy (in a good way) potato salad with too much (also in a good way) mayo, mac ‘n cheese, slow cooked ham hock and collard greens, cornbread—all cooked authentically. All darn tasty. When asked why they serve most of their items on paper plates, Jodi shrugs “that’s just the way it’s done”. They make their own BBQ sauce and rubs and they have dessert too. Homemade bourbon and pecan pie anyone?
Morepork will no doubt do well here. We’re already planning on grabbing a selection of meats and sides for a summer picnic down at Herne Bay’s neighbouring beaches. And, in the pipeline there’s talks of catering, take-home packed smoked meats, BBQ sauces and meat stocks, feeding large crowds at festivals, and side ventures to rid of leftover meats in new ways (stay tuned). All in all, we’re ecstatic Clint decided to return to his roots to share his gastronomic passion. And with that there’s only one thing left to say—God bless America.
For more details on Morepork BBQ, including opening hours, click here.
Image credit: Lauren Matilda Matthews