Croydon Cole, the charismatic owner of SMOKIN COLE BBQ knows a thing or two about good food, cooked well. Having worked for 10 years in the Auckland food industry (Euro and SPQR to name just two), lived in 80 countries around the world and spent the past 15 years on superyachts cooking for the rich and famous (Sir Richard Branson’s personal chef no less), he’s finally home to lay roots in this rocking new al-fresco barbecue spot nestled at the top of Richmond road.
Boasting the only fresh barbecue in Central Auckland (the only other Auckland establishment is the well-worth a visit Blue Ox Babe BBQ in Pukekohe), Croydon is in at 4.30am (that’s passion, people) to start prepping for the day. He gets the fire going and gets all his cuts ready for the smoker, some of which can take up to 10 hours to achieve the perfect smoky texture and taste. Using a mix of Pohutukawa and seasoned maple wood to smoke the meat keeps the home-grown Kiwi vibe strong.
Croydon’s on a mission to educate Kiwis on how a well-cooked rib should look and taste (clue, falling off the bone means it’s overcooked) and is the only person to be doing dry rubbed ribs in Auckland. Speaking of, Smokin Cole’s Memphis dry rub rib recipe is a closely guarded secret—one taste and you’ll understand why. These ribs are hands down some of the best ribs we’ve tasted in Auckland for some time. Far from dripping in over-spiced barbecue sauce, the idea is that you should be able to taste perfectly seasoned meat, with sauce for dipping on the side, should you choose. Served with the latest pickled condiment, such as pickled Kamo Kamo—a type of squash, or pickled jalapenos, alongside green tomatoes.
The daily menu changes according to what Croydon feels like eating on that day, but this just adds to the charm. If you’re like us and tend to plump for the same old favourites time and time again, seeing the words ‘sold out’ next to your choice will propel your taste buds into an unexpected voyage of discovery. Our advice? Ask the chef what’s ready and prepare to find your new favourite. Dig into the trailer trash mash, the Korean Bulgogi or Creole drumsticks AND the devilled egg salad. The prices are almost as good as the kai and are just another reason to love the vibe.
Veggies have plenty to smile about here too, even though the smoker is (currently) all about the meat (there are plans for fish and veggies in the future), a generous list of delicious sides will more than compensate. A staple on the menu is the simply delectable truffle mac ‘n’ cheese—the subtle truffle and cheese flavour giving way to a delicate hint of mustard goodness. It’s so moreish you would be forgiven for ordering more than one. Honorable mentions go to the Asian slaw and the smoked truffle cauliflower and cheese.
There are many plans afoot for the future at Smokin Cole’s, such as breakfast, desserts plus other exciting developments we can’t wait for. Hurry on down to SMOKIN COLE BBQ for a guaranteed good time and a very happy tum.
Image credit: Wono Kim