Ready for a BBQ adventure? Some of Sydney's best and authentic American Texas-style barbecue can be found at an unassuming church in Padstow. Bottom of the Barrel BBQ opened up during COVID and since then they have flourished despite the obstacles in their way. Find out more about their story and why a trip to Padstow is in order!
"Can we park here? I don't think we can, it's for the church" Mr NQN says looking around the car park. And then a woman comes from around the corner and like a car park angel says, "You can park here in this spot." That's Melody Thomas who is the face of Bottom of the Barrel BBQ. Her husband Dave is the pitmaster while Melody handles all the service at the popular food truck.
"Barbecue is a country thing, my dad had a small smoker, it's part of our DNA," says Indiana born Dave. In his household growing up, barbecue meant pulled pork or turkey. "It was never brisket and (pork) ribs were too expensive," says Dave. The name Bottom of the Barrel comes from the beginnings of the business. Dave built himself a barbecue using a steel barrel where he started experimenting with American barbecue inviting friends over to try the results of his experimentation. "It was a 40 gallon (@160L) steel drum. I think we could squeeze 4 briskets in it," says Dave.
After that, "Our church asked us to put on a 'meaty morning tea' for Fathers Day 2016- it was a hit and by Easter 2017 we'd started in our first community market. We caught our first big opportunity when we joined Paddy's Night Food market for their first ever market in 2017 and from there we expanded into more food truck events. During 2019 we decided to invest in a new setup with a really big Texas style offset smoker. Coming in at 6 meters, it was the biggest in Sydney. We had our grand opening in Feb 2020 right before the COVID lockdowns. It actually was a massive blessing to start then because people could only leave their house for food and everyone was looking for new food in their local area," says Dave.
When looking for a spot to have their food truck their church which they are members of offered up their carpark space and they've been here ever since. What started as Dave and Melody has now turned into a bigger business with 13 staff.
Dave came up with a design for the offset smoker which he took to a fabricator in Campbelltown who built it and the smoker "Thomas" sits at the back of the food truck itself. Every night Dave attends to the brisket that finishes cooking around midnight. Traditionally barbecue uses local, cheap wood and at Bottom of the Barrel he uses Ironbark wood which gives a predictable heat.
Next to the food truck and car park there's a covered verandah that is also dog friendly. We have Teddy and Milo along for this barbecue adventure with Lucy, Dan, Mrs Martin and Martin. Not only are dogs welcome, they also get their own treat. Melody comes over straight away and brings them a cup of unseasoned beef brisket each. The boys eagerly gobble up every last piece of brisket handed to them. They are in doggy heaven.
Ordering is done at the truck. The menu is simple and has three main items: beef brisket, pulled pork and a special. It can either come on a mixed plate which has a bit of pulled pork and brisket or in separate plates in four sizes from 250g, 250g, 450g to 550g. Prices start at $15 for a roll filled with meat and slaw or $23.50 for a plate. Today's special is the pork rib rack for $21.
There are also three sides available: potato salad, coleslaw and brisket beans. Each day has a special and it can vary from beef short ribs, country pork ribs, chicken marylands, burgers or nachos (it's best to check their Instagram as they rotate them). They also open for breakfast and offer their house cured bacon that is cured in maple syrup.
Mr NQN and I share three plates with the intention to take what we don't eat home for the best jaffles ever. We go for the 350g/12oz serve although I think 250g/8.8oz is plenty for me. First up is the big daddy: the beef brisket. When you take a fork to it you can just tell how soft it is. This transports me back to Lockhart, Texas the home of Texan barbecue and you can see why they have such a following. It's simply seasoned with salt and pepper which really brings out the natural flavour of the beef. All meals come with a soft, fresh white damper roll which is perfect for filling up with the meat and salad.
The pulled pork is delightful and I'm not usually a pulled pork sort of person. It's sweet and luscious and not dry at all. I wedge some in the soft white damper roll with some coleslaw and enjoy every bite. The beans arealso delicious and based on the Franklin BBQ recipe for Texan pinto beans with a very generous amount of chopped beef brisket in them.
However as much as I loved the brisket and pulled pork, my favourite is the country style ribs special. Dave explains, "Country style pork ribs are the ribs up towards the neck that share meat with the shoulder. They take a bit more TLC to cook but are an inexpensive cut of ribs. The baby back ribs are the lower 12 ribs that share meat with the loin and are close to the back. They are cut off of the other half of the rack- the spare ribs which share meat with the belly. Baby back ribs have become probably the most expensive pork cut." I absolutely love pork ribs of any kind and the bacon maple seasoning gives this a wonderful sweetness. Then there's the very tender meat that you cannot keep on the bone (it's seriously fall apart soft) that makes this so utterly moreish. This is also delicious in the damper with slaw and pickles.
This is all about getting in with your fingers and enjoying it and sitting on the balcony and catching up with friends. And even Teddy and Milo approve.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like American BBQ? Do you have a favourite meat cut?
This meal was independently paid for.
Bottom Of The Barrel BBQ
35 Cahors Rd, Padstow NSW 2211
Phone: 0492 809 606
Tuesday 8:30 am–8 pm
Wednesday to Friday 8:30 am–3 pm
Saturday 8:30 am–8 pm
Sunday and Monday closed