Low’n slow, home-smoked, luscious BBQ meats that melt in your mouth. All this and more at Morepork American BBQ restaurant in Ponsonby.
Fellow Cheapeats colleague Kate and I were looking for a place to have dinner and we wanted a change from our usual burgers and dumplings. “Do you know about Morepork BBQ?” asked Kate. It sounded perfect to me, so we roped Kate’s boyfriend into joining us (all the better to sample more of the menu, of course) and headed there for an early dinner.
Morepork is the creation of chef/owner Clint Davis, who in the course of his travels discovered American BBQ. Luckily for us Clint decided to bring this back to NZ, and he co-designed and co-built New Zealand’s first custom-built smoker. All the meat is cooked on site, so if they run out of something, then you will miss out. This likewise applies to the amazing pies for dessert (more about that later). All the more reason to have an early dinner.
Kate arrived first at the restaurant and ordered some nibbles, or “Fixins” as they are listed on the menu. Her choice of Hush Puppies ($6) was perfect – bites of deep-fried cornbread, accompanied by a spicy remoulade. We had to restrain ourselves to leave some for Kate’s boyfriend to sample.
The menu covers all the bases of American BBQ favourites: smoked meats, smoked meat combo meals, sandwiches, salads, sides, fixins and a kid’s menu.
Since there were three of us, we decided that The Sampler Platter ($65) was perfect. This includes four meats (one pound/500 grams) of BBQ meats of your choice, two Parker House rolls, two sides, one fixin’ and some pickled vegetables. We chose two orders of brisket, half-chicken and pork ribs. For sides I insisted on the Burnt Ends Baked Beans. We wanted to order the Smoke Ham Hock Collard Greens but these were not available, so we tried the Potato Salad instead. Our choice of a fixin’ was the tator tots, accompanied by smoked garlic aioli.
Kate ordered a homemade sweet tea with her meal, while her boyfriend drank one of the craft beers from the short beer menu.
Our BBQ meat feast arrived on a large wooden platter and was literally a feast for the eyes. Where to start? The brisket lived up to our expectations, moist and tender, truly “melt in your mouth”. The chicken was a generous serve and helped to defeat our appetites. The pork spareribs were lovely and tender, and we were surprised that they were not also falling off the bone (which we all agree is the way we like pork spareribs).
As for the sides and fixin’s, they are all we hoped for. The tator tots are homemade – no commercial frozen product here. The Burnt Ends Baked Beans had a rich smoky BBQ/tomato sauce, and just a hint of heat. I loved them. Kate was very happy with her choice of potato salad – a mayonnaise style salad which was the way she likes it. The garnish of pickled vegetables was a good counterpoint to the richness of the BBQ meat.
We were so engrossed in our meal that we did not see the blackboard sign listing their dessert pies. These are also homemade, and the apple pie had already sold out by the time we had finished our meal. However, Kate and I stopped in our tracks when we saw the rich Bourbon pecan pie. We split one slice and each took home half to savour later. This deep dish caramel sugar pie was topped with a generous layer of pecans. A hot cup of tea (or coffee) is recommended to wash all the sugar down.
Cheapeats carnivores, this place is for you! I would make a return visit for the hush puppies alone. In fact, I could make a meal of the sides and fixin’s. And of course, that luscious homemade pecan pie for dessert.