I dreamt of opening a smokehouse myself in Melbourne. This came after the London rage initially lead by the exquisite smoked meats at Pitt Cue Co. (http://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/pitt-cue-co-london-08-2012-12-2012). I even bought the cookbook to complement the massive 22" Weber Smokey Mountain imported from the USA (which I haven't had a chance to use yet). One day I will smoke my own ribs and briskets and my world will be a better place.
In that time Melbourne has seen a few smokehouses open recently to fill this void. Of the few I've tried, none have particularly wowed me and I still persevere on and hope for the best. I must admit the menu at Meatmaiden has been one of the more impressive I've seen, and I've been meaning to try it for a while (not only because the name reminds me of some of my favourite burger experiences at MEATliquor and MEATmarket).
The place has nice decorations on the walls (think female models holding axes), a dimly lit industrial setting, and a glass window showcasing drying slabs of meat. It is good that the dining area doesn't smell of overwhelming smoking and cooking fumes, for although that would be a nice aroma, the smell imbedded on clothing would be less so.
Tangy chilli and sweet BBQ sauces are found on the table to complement the flavours of the dishes. Smoked Old Fashioned (classic old fashioned, Buffalo Trace Bourbon gunned down with applewood smoke, sugar syrup and bitters) $18 was an intensely smokey version with a touch of other flavours to make the whiskey more easily palatable.
- Burnt ends $11 - trimmed ends of beef ribs, reasonably tender and flavoured;
- 20-hour Rangers Valley, Wagyu brisket, Tasmanian pepper berry rub (200g) $25 - nice meat and decent tender texture;
- Lamb ribs, lemon crumb $20 - very fatty (a bit too much) meat with standard lamb flavour but minimal other seasoning;
- BBQ eggplant & roast tomato $19 - piping hot simple eggplant. For some reason I expected this to be smoked but it wasn't;
- Shaved fennel, pomegranate salad $8 - very delicious mix of textures and flavours showing how good raw fennel can be.
I'll still come back to eat these dishes again (except the lamb ribs) and try the beef short ribs, brick chicken, lobster mac & cheese and grilled Sher F1 Wagyu ribeye (1.1-1.2kg), the last one of which particularly sounds like a dream. It hasn't replaced Pitt Cue Co. for me but until I can capably make my own or find better in Melbourne, it'll be fine.