Level 1, 79 Bourke Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Ph: 1300 274 753
Fancy Hank's! Once a casual barbecue joint on Queen street near the Vic Market, now a fancy venue up on Bourke street, with table service and a full bar in slick art deco surroundings. I'd been following (and drooling over) their Instagram for months, so when I received an invitation to the Bourke Street venue's opening night dinner late last year, I was more than happy to attend. (Since then they've also added a rooftop bar). Fun times!
|Front: Hank X Quealy Co-lab Rosso - $9.60|
Back: Cherry Cola - $6
Fancy Hank's drinks list complements their American-style slow cooked barbecue - from soft drinks like Arnold Palmers (half-lemonade half ice-tea) and cherry cola, to cocktails, beers and well priced wines by the glass.
|Buttermilk biscuits with maple butter - $4|
The first dish on the night was the buttermilk biscuits with maple butter. And these were just amazing! Soft and warm and fluffy, with a light crust on the top. Just divine. I would happily go back to Fancy Hank's just for a huge plate of these biscuits!
|Maple glazed belly ham, red eye mayo - $10|
Devilled eggs - $1.50 each
Fried cauliflower, ranch dressing, hot sauce - $8
From the "Snacks" section of the menu... devilled eggs were cute and retro. I loved the festive sprinkling of chopped chives and paprika on top, and am totally stealing that idea the next time I make devilled eggs. The fried cauliflower combined some of my favourite things (ranch dressing, hot sauce, cauliflower, deep fried anything), and was very good, but I would have preferred the cauliflower served separately from the dressing to keep it hot and crunchy. Prior to this dinner, I hadn't tried belly ham before, and after trying it here, I wonder why not! Belly is so much moister than the usual leg ham, and here it was served with little crackling crumbs, sweet maple glaze and spicy mayo. Delicious.
And here's the meat! The team has a huge custom-built smoker (you can see it as you enter the venue), and they certainly put it to good use. The sausages were fantastic, both getting the tick of approval from German Sandra (the pork andouille, in particular, was a standout). My favourite, however, was the incredible brisket - so smoky and tender, with just the right amount of fat. Pulled pork and buttermilk-brined chicken were also very good. Although I must say, from the description of "buttermilk-brined chicken", I had been expecting (or hoping for!) fried chicken. The watermelon jalapeño hot sauce was unusual but great, with a sweet-spicy-refreshing vibe enhancing the heavy smoked meats.
|Pit-braised beans, molasses, smoked bacon, sour cream - $14|
I normally avoid ordering baked beans at restaurants or cafes, as they can tend to be stodgy and bland, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the pit-braised beans. They had a great smoky-sweet flavour from the bacon and molasses, whilst the sour cream cut through the rich flavours. I kept going back for more!
|Coleslaw, Kentucky-style - $12|
Kentucky-style coleslaw was simple, and done well. It was crunchy, fresh and well seasoned.
|Wedge salad, blue cheese dressing, onion jam, pickled radish - $12|
The wedge salad, like the coleslaw, was a crisp fresh salad that complemented the rich meats well. The blue cheese flavour was prominent - definitely one for blue cheese lovers.
|Corn bread, jalapeño butter - $12|
For me, the least impressive side was the corn bread. These were served cold, and were a little spongy. I'd def suggest going for the biscuits over these.
|Café du Monde, Doughnuts and Coffee pudding - $12|
Dessert was Fancy Hank's take on the New Orleans classic, beignets and coffee. Here, the beignet was a little donut, sitting in a pool of rich coffee pudding. (In this case, an American pudding, i.e. a thick sauce, rather than a British-style baked pudding). The flavours here were great, although the donut itself was a little dense, and was difficult to cut with the spoon - a knife and fork would have been a better choice.
Thanks for Fancy Hank's for having us down! The food was very enjoyable, and they're a welcome addition to Melbourne's BBQ scene.
Get the brisket, get the biscuits.
Sarah and Sandra dined as guests of Fancy Hank's BBQ.