There’s nothing like bonding over ribs on a cool spring day.
With their slow-cooked fall apart goodness, sweet sticky sauce dripping from fingers and face, it’s a very pleasant way to make a mess of ourselves, especially after a long week.
We’re all out of bed in time for Sunday lunch. There’s a day to be lived in an afternoon, so time’s the essence, but ribs fit the ‘brunch for lunch’ scenario with ease.
Burleigh Smoke House is relaxed and easy.
The venue bears little resemblance to one of its previous incarnations, the graceful Anna Karena, but it’s welcoming enough. Cheery.
Newbie restaurant owner Eddie Reyes has made minimal changes to the dining area. The timber and tin remain, brass lanterns overhead invoking a relaxed, homely outback feel. There’s also alfresco seating at the front of the shop facing the street.
There’s a well-priced lunch menu that I’m keen to order from, including bao, sliders, tacos and a beef brisket bap for $13, all served with steak fries. I’m in for tacos, the others intent on a ‘Tasting plate for two’ which includes a kilo of BBQ pork ribs, smoked sausages and a slab of 10-hour hickory-smoked brisket with sides of slaw and chips.
Service is friendly and relaxed as we order and sit chatting, catching up on family business.
We sip a Clique coffee, sourced in Tasmania, new to us, smooth and satisfying, and there’s filtered Purezza on tap, Aperitif flavours to be added.
An hour later we’re still waiting for our food. With conversation tapering off, the tension of meeting a ‘next appointment’ begins to tell.
There are apologies and assurances from the waitress. Apparently two large ‘takeaway’ orders had sneaked in just before us, she said, so our order has been delayed.
“Can I bring you some chips while you’re waiting? Don’t worry! I’ll take care of you…”
We reluctantly agree, as time is getting short. We’re so close to walking out.
Chips arrive. As does the lunch, almost immediately after with more chips.
When the platter arrives, there’s redemption. It’s almost enough food for a week. The ribs and brisket are mouth-watering and smoky, tender enough to fall apart with a house-made bourbon BBQ sauce. Dusted buttermilk-brined chicken wings are crispy and interesting, sausages smoky and succulent. In all, it’s a feast for two or more.
Speaking later to Eddie, he tells us of his love for backyard BBQ, a hobby that led him into this store.
“We want to provide value dining to customers – generous portions and quality food at the right price,” he tells us, a goal which is certainly met at Burleigh Smoke House. Lunch is especially great value, the tacos tasty, although the bap is the best-seller.
But it’s the tasting platter that shows off all the goods; rustic generous serves of food to feed the hungry hordes, prepared by Chef Reeve Mathews (ex-Sage and Star City) in Yoda and Deep South smokers.
But that’s the problem. We’d chosen the venue as it was the first meal of the day for some of us, albeit at lunchtime. Hungry and short on time, the 65-minute wait for food was untenable, especially when we knew the ribs were waiting, kept warm in the oven!
For the first time, we’re made aware of the obvious negative impact of takeout trade given precedence over ‘dine in’ customers.
And those extra chips the waitress offered us?
They’re on the bill.
NOTE: A subsequent 6pm visit by family members sees much faster food service. Perhaps that’s the trick – get in early!
Shop 3/1957 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads Ph: 07 5659 2701
Open: Tues – Thurs 11:30am – 9pm; Fri – Sun 11:30am – 10pm (9.30pm Sunday close)