This is Small Talk’s Lox Bagel ($17.50). I don’t know the physical or legal difference between a bagel with filling and a sandwich, apart from the type of bread, but nonetheless enjoyed this bagel with filling. The bagel has a sweet and savoury flavour, with a mildly dense texture providing a perfect balance of bite and chew. The filling of smoked salmon, caper paste, pickled onion and cream cheese was deeply umami, with a good mix of different textures and flavours. My partner and I shared the one bagel, and I do not think it was inadequate. They come pre-sliced in half, so if eating with a friend or colleague they are optimal for sharing two different halves of two different bagels.
Another item pre-destined for sharing is their Raspberry Fritter ($7.50), essentially a square glazed donut with a light hint of raspberry filling. If you were to close your eyes it would be almost indistinguishable from a Krispy Kreme original glazed donut, though the grooves did make it extremely convenient to tear and share. Not the strongest dessert though, and I feel too expensive for what it was.
Please note that this venue is more takeaway oriented, with only very limited outdoor benching available.
2 Smoking Barrels had been on my radar for about 12 months until I finally had the opportunity to go. Their quite limited lunch opening hours, number two hours (12PM-2PM) per day five days per week, meant that it took a couple of goes before I was able to time my post-nights nap and wake up early enough for the drive back from Nowra to Sydney, passing through Wollongong in the middle. I ate in the last fortnight of their location on Flinders St, though hopefully as they expand into their new premises next month (far past once this post is actually published), they might also expand their hours.
2 Smoking Barrels offers generally standard American BBQ fare, with a mixture of rolls (burgers), meats, and sides on offer. Like sister restaurant Babyface Kitchen, some classics here are enhanced by an Eastern influence, for example their pit smoked beef brisket roll ($19), served with a drizzle of miso ranch sauce along with the standard “Carolina” barbecue sauce, a combination that actually does work. Sauce aside, the brisket in the burger was deliciously juicy and tender, with a good ratio of fillings to bun, but what in my mind was a bit of an extreme price.
The hot links ($10 for 100g), again served with a mixture of sauces, were equally juicy and flavourful, so much so that I found myself dripping juice onto my shirt at multiple times throughout this meal (in my defense, I had just worked 13 hours, napped for two, and then driven for one). Despite the quality, again the value proposition seemed suspect.
COMMENTS My friend, colleague, and housemate asked me if I thought that 2 Smoking Barrels was “worth a detour” on the way up from Nowra back to the inner-West of Sydney. Worth a detour kind of implies something specific when it comes to restaurant reviews, in a two-star kind of way. That said, I do think it’s worth taking 15 minutes out of a 2 hour trip to go to this restaurant if you really want to go. What you’ll need to consider for yourself is if it’s worth the money spend.
I hadn’t taken part in the night-shift delivery order in months, but a set of unexpected circumstances put an end to the health kick. I was recently involved in a minor motor vehicle accident which left me physically OK (long-term sequelae yet to be seen) but the car not so much. My insurance doesn’t cover a hire car in my situation, and so I was left with the choice of either an 1.5 hour public transport trip each way between home or work, or simply staying at work between shifts in one of the on-call rooms in the dungeon under the unit. It was a Saturday between night shifts where my partner was working the day, so not only could she not pick me up, but I would’ve had no crossover with her at home had I actually gone home that day. So I stayed at the suggestion of a colleague (thanks GD), had extremely poor sleep, and had since I was completely unprepared for this at-work siesta I had nothing to eat either.
Enter Burgerville’s Double Down ($13), two halal beef smash patties fused together by cheese, vegetablised with shredded lettuce and seasoned with pickles, onions, lettuce, and ketchup between a brioche bun. This was a pretty good burger, with a good ratio of fillings to bread, with juicy patties, reasonable freshness, and tasty condimentation. My esteemed fellow MTNMK, who asked specifically to be quoted, remarked upon biting into his similar burger that “brioche buns are so soft, it’s like chewing on a pillow”.
Though visually attractive, the chilli chicken ribs (5 for $8) were quite dry and not really that flavoured, with I think mostly the suggestion of chilli. I ate two, and there are three still left forgotten in the fridge. I wouldn’t recommend these. I only have a short break before my next run of nights (shout out only one day shift among 11 night shifts in the month of December), so I’ll throw them away once I’m back at work.
OVERALL THOUGHTS The beef burger was pretty good, and though I wasn’t game enough to order the triple-patty pounder burger, it might’ve been even better with a bit more meat. I wouldn’t recommend the ribs though, an MTNMK also preferred his beef burger over his chicken burger. RIP MX-5.
During my time in Nowra my two junior colleagues each recommended me a South Coast burger chain to try. Though I never made it to The Hungry Monkey, I did manage to go to Sneaky Burger as my last dinner in town.
I had and ruined the Pineapple Express ($14) with an additional beef patty ($3). I had been craving a bit of a pineapple burger after seeing a chicken schnitzel pineapple burger on the menu at Chooksy’s, and I must admit that the weird combination of peanut butter and pineapple on a burger drew me in. While most of the other burger options on the “Baller range” at Sneaky Burger feature two patties, the pineapple express comes as default with only one, so of course I had to ruin it with an extra.
This $17 abomination turned out to be an extremely oily and greasy mess, not to mention ergonomically difficult. It is my own fault and my own regret that I did this, as I suspect the base burger would’ve been just as good, perhaps better. Despite the greasiness and the clear presence of pineapple, the flavours of this burger didn’t quite stand out for me. I think that in particular the patty wasn’t as seasoned as I would have expected, and the use of peanut butter rather than a standard sauce again meant that the flavours were blunted. Though I could definitely appreciate the presence of chunky peanut butter, I don’t know that overall it’s a great flavour to use in a burger.
I ended up feeling extremely guilty about halfway through this burger, and started to open it up and pick at it a bit (also because two pieces of bread, no sauce, and the added textural dryness from peanut butter just kind of made it extra dry). This co-incided with my consultant’s arrival in the restaurant, and so I said hello to him and we did a bit of a clinical handover with half an open burger in my hands. He loves the place.
As an aside I really enjoyed this Google Review from Cassandra. I actually disagree with most of the content the woman serving me was likely an adult, could clearly read, and there was no problem with customer service at all. I got all the bacon that was promised to me, and any additional servings of bacon are $3 and not $3.50, so six of those could probably buy like half to three quarters of a nice pizza from nearby Pietro’s in South Nowra. I just thought the last sentence was funny.
I’ve enjoyed Black Bear BBQ ever since my first visit during internship; back whilst I was living and working in the Deep West. Their little restaurant in Blacktown’s industrial district was my first introduction to Texas-style BBQ, and even though it took a few attempts to try and go (their opening hours were very strange at the time) I finally managed.
My first bearlesque adventure in 2018 was with their Hungry Bear Breakfast Box, featuring big slabs of their beef brisket, pork belly, a hot link, two sunny side up eggs, and some baked beans. My memory fails me (it’s been three years), so enjoy the pretty picture instead. This item is no longer available on their menu.
I recently had the opportunity to enjoy a quick takeaway meal just as the Delta variant of COVID-19 struck Sydney, which is almost funny looking back at it and writing this in the early days of the Omicron strain.
These tater tots ($6) started off pretty strongly. Freshly fried and seasoned with parmesan and rosemary salt, each little tot came with a nice crunch and a warm centre. Unfortunately, as is often the case with deep fried starchy and cheesy foods, as these tots cooled down they started to taste a little bitter. Unavoidable.
The O.GBurger ($14), not to be confused with an O&G Burger, was pretty good. The beef brisket patty was moist with a good mouthfeel, while the salad added a good degree of freshness to balance out the fatty patty and associated cheese. It’s a good thing that this burger is essentially the same as the cheeseburger but with extra salad, as any other differences would have meant us ordering both.
The Hungry Bear Box ($32) is designed to satisfy not only a hungry, but also a peckish* black bear. While you can order Black Bear BBQ’s boxes with a choice of either beef brisket or pork belly for a slightly lower price, truly hungry bears are able to experience a tasting of both, along with a jalapeno and cheese hot link (sausage), some potato crsps, pickles, and coleslaw. Both the pork and beef were tender and juicy, though both my partner and I preferred the brisket over the pork. The hot link is quite tasty and nice, and at $4 a pop are great as a stand-alone or add-on order.
COMMENTS Black Bear BBQ is a true friend to bearkind. I’d recommend every (non-vegetarian) bear that every there was to gather here.
I have been informed that the word peckish does not describe a bear who wants a little bit of everything, merely a bear who is a little hungry but not fully hungry. I refuse to look this up, and what I don’t know can’t hurt me.