The semi-annual BBQ Throwdown, hosted by Newmarket Hotel and featuring a worth contender (Kong last year, Hellenic Republic this year) is an event I am super psyched to attend each time. A $85 buy in buys you a six course meal from the BBQ Gods, unlimited EtOH in the form of wines, beers and cider, and a chance to declare BBQ History. Pretty good deal, especially if you can stuff face with a lot of meat, and chugg down a lot of alcohol.
It begins with BAY.
Newmarket Hotel’s House smoked Moreton Bay Bug w/ granny smith apple, guanciale & broad beans.The gently smoked bug is subtle with all the right flavours and textures. the creamy sauce gave a nice spicy kick whilst the sweet salad lining the lettuce leaf San choi Bai style made the dish a lot more complex than I’d imagined. I’d definitely prefer stronger, more prominent flavours, but it was nice overall.
Hellenic Republic’s Hot Smoked Ocean trout, burnt onion puree, fried shallots, caper leaves & fennel seed lavosh. I really enjoyed the trout, but it was slightly over cooked. the burnt onion puree was addictive and I cleaned it right out. The lavosh was a bit hard and crunchy when eaten with the trout, and didn’t add much to the flavours. I’m not sure if I was meant to eat the pickled caper leaves, but I loved them.
Round Two: BONES.
Newmarket Hotel’s Peach Wood smoked St Louis Pork Rib, shaved sprout slaw, verjus & wild herbs. This was probably the hardest, closest round of the day. The two dishes presented were incredible. The pork rib was tender and melted in your mouth, and the BBQ sauce all over the ribs were to die for. The slaw was slightly bitter which I didn’t enjoy greatly, but let’s be honest; we’re not here for the slaw.
Hellenic Republic’s 18 Hour Beef Short Rib, pickled beetroot & smoked bone marrow was definitely my favourite. When I bit into the beef the flavour was incredible, it was tender and juicy and orgasmic, the pinnacle of BBQ. The tenderness was incredible and the extra fatty deepness was brought forth by the narrow. I wanted to sink into the dream forever.
Final dishes of BEAST. The least impressive round. It was actually somewhat disappointing to end such a great meal like this.
Newmarket Hotel’s Spit Roasted Spice Rubbed Lamb w/ charred eggplant + mint, pasilla chilli + sesame was not very impressive. The dip had a strange after taste that I couldn’t quite put my finger on – it reminded me of freshly cleaned toilets. The lamb wasn’t very flavourful and the salad was nice but very basic, like a backyard BBQ lettuce salad. The dish unfortunately was not better than the sum of its parts, and thus, marked a fail.
Hellenic Republic’s Pig Souva, pita bread, fermented cabbage, housemade mustard, apple + fennel slaw was done a lot better than Newmarket’s final dish. Succulent pork meat had way more flavour, which you could eat alone. The sliver of crackling tempted me and left me wanting more, and even the salad was slightly better; semi sweet but ultimately too healthy.
TL;DR My vote is for Hellenic all the way, but they were robbed during our session. They did win dinner though. ZING!