My heart sinks. There'd s massive line snaking down Enmore Road. I've heard that Bovine and Swine, the new inner-west Texas barbecue joint, is good, but a 30 metre queue before opening time is over-the-top, even by Sydney standards.
On closer inspection, the line features a lot of loafers and unkempt hair... it's just hip young 'uns waiting for the Mac DeMarco gig at the Enmore Theatre, two doors down. I suddenly feel old.
A few minutes after 6, the doors—to the eatery, that is—open. The line, a respectable 20-people deep, shuffles in. This has been the norm for owners Anton Hughes, Wes Griffiths and Tim Chillingworth since opening in November last year. Word spreads fast in this end of town, faster when smoked meats are involved, and even faster still when said meats are fired up by ex-Vic's Meat Market personnel.
The menu offers pig and cow cuts in 100 gram servings. Customise according to your appetite. I've brought two male carnivores with me, who were strangely unavailable when reviewing the Hello Kitty Diner, but had clear diaries all week for this venture. It's true. You don't make friends with salad.
We order up on the beef brisket, one of the best I've had. The sliced meat is tender without being mushy, and has a creamy layer of fat underneath a crusty salt-and-pepper rub. It's a sure-fire winner, and dare I say, the signature dish.
The chicken brisket is an unexpected standout. It's ordered by the person in line before me, and I quietly judge her too-safe choice of meat. But watching the bearded Griffiths slice through the bird as if soft butter, I'm tempted. The slow-smoking process,which starts at 5am each trading day in a mammoth smoker (built by Griffiths and Hughes), does wonders to the normally ho-hum poultry. Set aside your judgement this one time.
The pork rib is a little dry, but all is forgiven when lubricated with the excellent house-made barbecue sauce. The sides, also made in-house, complete the food pyramid for the meal. Black eyed beans in a chunky chilli-tomato sauce have a good bite, texture and freshness. The mixed pickles provide welcome relief from the meat fest (though the cucumbers are too soggy for my liking. Go for the onions instead.) Mac 'n' cheese, sprinkled with paprika is pleasingly, well... cheesy.
This place is small. Unlike other Sydney barbecue mess halls, Bovine and Swine has only a couple of communal tables indoors, and it's an order-pay-collect-your-tray system here. It's best to put your childhood food court skills to use and have your friends mind the seats while you order, and watch as your meats are sliced fresh in front of you.
It’s worth the wait, and you gotta get in quick as they shut up shop when the meat runs out. So breathe it in, boys and girls. This is the sort of smoking you want to take up.
Still hungry? Check out our verdict on The Potting Shed.
Image credit: Jackielyn Powell