Raining on this barbie
There’s a hog on the spit but that’s as authentic as it gets in the disappointing Aussie Barbecue Restaurant, writes CATHERINE CLEARY
IS IT FAIR to pass judgment on a place that serves food from midday until 5am? Are burger joints meant to be noticed? Or should they just be let fade into the furniture of a town or a city, like bus stops or road signs? They are sellers of soakage – food from four food groups: meat, fat, white baps and chips. Like service station sandwiches, they will never inspire much more than a sated burp and a silent vow to eat better the next day.
But the Aussie Barbecue in Dublin’s South Richmond Street seems to promise more. Firstly it’s not a chain restaurant. Then there is a whole hog, a leathery glazed piggie, looking up at passersby who might fancy pulled pork sandwiches. The place is claiming to be “Ireland’s only authentic Australian Barbecue Restaurant”. And when an Irish barbecue involves tongs in one hand, umbrella in the other this looks like it might be a satisfying alternative.
The Aussie Barbecue is on a fairly run-down spur of South Richmond Street that takes traffic heading up to Rathmines Bridge. There are rustic picnic tables on the footpath but it’s not an enticing space to sit and hear the roar of the 15A. It’s a hungry Friday evening and we’ve peddled and scooted down the canal to get here with three boys so we pile in. Comedian Dylan Moran’s sketch about children being “midget drunks” pops into my head as we slide into our booth and take our seats and one of us decides the best use for such a seat is to lie on his back on it with his legs in the air. The corners of the copper-clad tables are rounded and the vinyl seats with red stitching in a flame pattern are wipe clean. So far so suitable.
The other nice thing about this place is the service, which is very friendly. And the food is cheap. I’m hopeful this could be a find. Sadly it’s not. My Aussie burger, “served in a freshly-made made bap” according to the website, comes in an industrial-looking burger bap which disintegrates in my hands under the weight of the slab of deeply ordinary burger. It’s got two strips of bacon on it and some orange cheddar as well as watery strips of iceberg lettuce.
The first bite is satisfying in the way that first bites of burgers are. But then it all turns heavy and greasy as it cools rapidly.
Two bowls of boomerang fries live up to their name by repeating on us several times in the hours after the meal.
The closest description I can find to the coating on the “Tasmanian” chicken tenders is the red-brown road surface they use to pave bike lanes. These are hard, overcooked and shockingly over-salted. The “freshly baked” roll for the “snag dawg” – their take on a hot dog – is similarly lacking in anything other than the industrially-produced hot dog roll characteristics. The sausage inside is fine.