It’s not common for Australian diners to equate subtlety with meat on a plate.
Sure, the decades of over-cooking are over and a well done meal is no longer the standard go-to for the vast majority, who can appreciate the natural juices and flavours of protein. Seasoning is in over sauces that mask the flavour and we commonly deride the over-powering reds previously a staple to accompany any cut of steak.
Times have changed, and indeed tastes have done so as well. But Australian’s still have a frustrating obsession with equating the words ‘charcoal’ and ‘barbecue’ with being heavy, unsophisticated dining experiences. And the latest frustration perhaps is an over saturations of pulled and slow cooked meats offset by the popular but often too fatty pork belly.
To have protein on your plate now can be so much more. And who says protein has to be about meat as well?
A gem along Magill Road at the fore of the re-invention of the charcoal experience is Hoosegow. Borrowing influences heavily from the history of Latin flavour profiles, with some shared relationships with Middle Eastern style cooking as well, what’s important to appreciate is that a lot of the dishes offered on the menu relate to palates which were largely unchanged for centuries. Meat was never a daily meal, and was only cooked on special occasions mean that it was treated with reverence and provided a flavour palate which complimented the sort of fresh staple ingredients that Spanish food history is so well known for; fresh corn and beans, avocado, vegetable empanadas, tomatoes; a balance of spicy, salty, juicy and refreshing savoury influence.
Hoosegow are masters of these combinations and while they will say that their chargrilled chicken is perhaps their most infamous dish, with its caramelised exterior perfectly offset with an in house aioli recipe I wish I could take home, the true depths of flavour their kitchen dish up can be found in how they balance the meats they serve.
Innovative ideas such as a light jalapeño dressing on the slaw tingles the tastebuds. Homely spiced rices, smoky, perfectly layered pastry for their empanadas, the hint of garlic in their guacamole that balances the paprika on their house made dipping crisps. While it may appear that the meats are the main show, these are the staples which the menu is in fact built around and consistently delight throughout each course.
The meat itself should not be forgotten though, with perfectly cooked lamb backstrap, duck, house made meatball and sausage all staples, as well as the flair their flex when it comes to their special events incorporating delights such as Flautas, Tacosi and tender shredded beef all worth the trip on their own.
But for us, and for a lot of diners who maybe tire after more than two courses of meat heavy flavours, there is so much more to discover. And let it be said that while CBD locations are often highlighted for their part in showcasing SA produce, suburban locations like Hoosegow have a more important part to play in the evolution of what local’s enjoy.
They consistently prove that good food is worth travelling beyond the square mile for. And that doesn’t mean all the way to wine country or the beach. Our suburbs are just as well endowed with locations worthy of a weekend visit.
And let it be known, it is not uncommon for a dance or music performance to sit comfortably amongst the dining experience here, treated with equal passion as the food they serve to complete the rich cultural experience on offer.
Hoosegow is located at 419 Magill Rd. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and make a booking for their next themed dinner event, they’re always utterly brilliant!