Lisa van Aswegen
Texas barbecue has come to the Elgin valley… The Hickory Shack has already created a loyal following with its pit-fired barbecue meats. Take a stroll to the shed and check out the pit master doing his thing with vast, purpose-built smoking pits. This is where the magic happens: apple and other fruit woods are used to smoke everything from brisket (a melt-in-the-mouth must) to baby back pork ribs, giant beef ribs, whole chickens and sausages. Plating is simple: a board with brown paper does the trick, and the idea is to get stuck in. The pulled pork is another must, tender, tasty and slathered in moreish barbecue sauce. Sides are simple: fries, home-baked beans and coleslaw made with vinegar, which perfectly cuts through the richness of the meat. Homemade sauces on the table mean you can create your own flavours. Pulled pork with apple chutney? Chicken with dollop of chipotle mayo? It all works in this unassuming spot that’s fast becoming a must-visit in the area. An original kiddies' menu and yummy breakfast options such as bacon breakfast buns and sausages with eggs add to the appeal even more.
It has to be craft beer or cider (try the pomegranate if available) from the region. Cocktails are served in jam jars and there's a handful of wines from the area to round things off, as well as milkshakes for kids big and small.
Service isn't quite up to the city pace you might be used to, but servers are friendly and welcoming. A chat to the chef and pit-master is always fun, and his enthusiasm is infectious.
The expansive wooden deck is the place to be, with a view of the surrounding mountains and smoking shed. Seating inside is simple and straightforward with whitewashed chairs and a feature fireplace. There's a lovely lawn and jungle gym where the kids can run around.
Have a scoop of ice cream for afters.
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