REVIEW: FANCY HANKS, MELBOURNE CBD
Out with the old and in with the new and fancy! Fancy Hanks just got a whole lot fancier since moving to their new city locale. But rest assured - while the menu has also experienced some new additions, its business as usual when it comes to their meats... perhaps even tastier with their new fancy smoker.
Prior to its opening, we experienced a preview dinner comprised of a tasty selection from their menu. The evening kicked off with an assortment of appetisers/snacks that really highlighted the American style of their menu. Devilled eggs topped with a creamy, yolk mayo, fried cauliflower teamed with a tangy ranch dressing and a touch of hot sauce, and the maple glazed tender cuts of fatty belly ham all yielded maximum impact in the taste department. Not expecting it, I was also quite taken by the buttermilk 'biscuits'; essentially scones but with a much crunchier exterior compared to the ones served during high tea. Sealing the deal was the accompanying indulgent maple butter that complemented the biscuits to a perfect T.
- Beef brisket - black pepper rub, pasture fed, marble score 2+, Gippsland, Victoria.
- Pulled pork shoulder - paprika and brown sugar rub, free range, black Berkshire pig, Western District, Victoria.
- Chicken - buttermilk brined, free range, Northern Victoria.
- Sausage links - made daily with quality trim, choice of beef and black pepper or Pork Andouille style.
We were next served what would probably be described as a meaty heaven for all the carnivores out there. Favourites included the sausage links, which were beautifully seasoned and packed quite a subtle but addictive spicy presence. While the smokiness of the adorning rubs and natural flavours of the beef brisket and pulled pork shoulder really shone through, they were both let down by their drier textures. Similarly, the chicken also had great flavour but we did encounter some succulent bites amongst the drier ones. Other tables appeared more fortunate on this front and their meats had been cooked to tender perfection. Sides included a creamy sweet Kentucky style coleslaw, airy-light corn bread teamed with a jalapeno butter paste, hearty braised bean and smoked bacon mix balanced out by a dollop of tangy sour cream, and a wedge salad that probably could have done with a little less blue cheese dressing and more of the onion jam.
Stomach space was a little bit tight by the time dessert rolled around but the fried aromas of the Cafe du Monde (doughnuts and coffee pudding) got me. The fluffy doughnuts were spot on in texture and worked seamlessly with the accompanying coffee caramel, ending the evening on quite a balanced, sweet note.
As it turns out, there's more to Fancy Hanks than just a carnivorous good time; it was the snacks and many of the sides served during the preview dinner that eclipsed the meats after all. Having said that, I'm more than willing to give the meats (perhaps the ribs?) another go, especially since a second visit will no doubt come with a side of those buttermilk biscuits and some corn bread...
Level 1, 79 Bourke St,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
1300 274 753
Disclosure: I attended the preview dinner as a guest of Fancy Hanks and Zilla & Brook Publicity and Production. All opinions expressed in this post are based entirely on my experience and observations made during the time of my visit.