Meat. And barbecue. You'll find both at Papi Chulo, a mash-up of American smokehouse meets Brazilian cantina spiced up with some Latin American influence too. You'll want to eat here with at least three meat-loving mates if you have any intention on making a dent on the menu.
Seating inside Papi Chulo
Papi Chulo is a Merivale stablemate and the venue is as slick as you'd expect from Hemmes' crew. The space is bright and airy, mixing up booth seating with high bench tables and stools that overlook Manly wharf. The bar looks straight out of New Orleans yet they've also cleverly interwoven a casual beach feel that makes punters feel right at home.
Passionfruit and coconut milk smoothie $10
Head chefs Chris Hogarth and Patrick Friesen run the kitchen here, backed by executive chef Dan Hong who conceived much of the original menu after a whirlwind trip through the USA. They've covered all bases here - although the focus is on smoked barbecue meats, there are enough vegetarian dishes (fried pimentos, empanadas with wild greens, (not a) chopped salad and roast cauliflower) to keep almost everyone happy. They even have lactose-friendly smoothies, made with coconut milk and passionfruit and blitzed into a tall glassful of summer.
Ceviche of kingfish $17
with jalapeno, celery, pineapple and crispy corn
Our birthday lunch booking for fourteen ends up split across two tables, but between the eight of us we manage to cover significant menu real estate.
The ceviche of kingfish kicks things off with a bang, the fish lightly cured so the flesh still retains its plump springiness. It's livened with chunks of fresh pineapple and celery, a hit of spicy jalapeno and the salty crunch of deep-fried corn kernels.
Pea guacamole with tortilla chips $14
I'd been sceptical at the idea of pea guacamole when I read it on the menu, but this one really is a winner. Smooth and silky mashed avocado is made sweeter with the juicy pop of baby peas, scooped up into triangles of crunchy tortilla chips.
Smoked hot wings with comeback sauce $16
You'll get nine smoked hot wings with comeback sauce, but really it's only public politeness that stops each of us from grabbing the entire bowl for ourselves. First up they're mid-wings, a unanimous vote for favourite wing part. They're fried to a glorious shatter of crunch, best smothered in the smoky, spicy and creamy comeback sauce that, yes, will have you coming back for more.
Tip of the day: save the comeback sauce for the curly fries you'll devour later on.
Roast cauliflower with romesco, parmesan and brown butter crumbs $15
If you ever needed proof that everything tastes better with cheese, this is it. The orders for roast cauliflower are relentlessly coming out of the kitchen, roasted whole until the florets tinge to a golden brown.
Parmesan grating action in the open kitchen
The cauliflower is cradled in a bed of romesco sauce then showered with clouds of finely grated parmesan. Brown butter crumbs complete the nutty and toasty flavour bomb.
Potatoes and gravy $17
Roast potatoes with cipollini onions, bone marrow and creme fraiche
The potatoes and gravy dish is buried in the middle of the snacks menu but we order it solely because of the mention of bone marrow. It's the second last ingredient in the description but it arrives as the star on the plate, a hunk of marrow roasted in the bone to a perfect level of quivering lusciousness. One scoop in and we immediately order two more for the table. It's that good.
More bone marrow. Stat.
It takes less than ten minutes for our second and third orders of bone marrow to arrive, although maybe they just saw the urgency in our eyes. The potatoes are terrific too, with a waxy creaminess and a few slices of purple congos as well, but it's the bone marrow we're all sighing over with contentment. I'm still waiting for bone luges to take off here though (hey if it's good enough for Bourdain....).
Papi Chulo BBQ platter $86
Half rack pork ribs, 150g each of wagyu brisket, chopped pork and pork belly with pickles and soft bread
But let's face it. The main attraction here is the barbecue. The Papi Chulo BBQ platter may make you weep at the price (a cool $86) but there are hours of effort behind each morsel. There's some slow and tender loving going on here.
The menu describes this as enough to feed two to four, but I reckon one hungry bloke could easily put this away in one sitting. There's a half rack of ribs, cooked with a sweet and sticky marinade until it's all caramelised at the edges, plus slices of wagyu brisket, pork belly and a mound of chopped pork with a smoky barbecue sauce. The menu lists pork ribs but we end up with lamb ribs, presumably due to a shortage in the kitchen.
The pork belly is tender, generously ribboned with fat, and the chopped pork has a comforting sauciness to it, but I'm secretly loving the bread rolls with their sweet fluffiness and honey-coloured crust.
Smoked wagyu brisket (300g) $34
The smoked wagyu brisket is a clear favourite, and we supplement our order with two extra serves. You'll score three slices of brisket and two bread rolls for $34. The meat isn't overly smoky but there's a luxe richness you get from wagyu.
Smoked wagyu brisket
Smoked lamb ribs with Papi's BBQ sauce $32
The smoked lamb ribs end up being my favourite meat of the day. They're cooked long enough so much of the fat has rendered out. What you're left with is tender lamb basted in a sticky glaze of Papi's barbecue sauce. It's addictively good.
Curly fries $9
Curly fries are ridiculously good too, cooked so every corkscrew has a pleasing crunch. Dip them in the comeback sauce you saved from your hotwings (you're welcome).
Jumbo king prawns with lemongrass and coconut dressing $38
Fancy something lighter? The jumbo king prawns are all you need to hark back to memories of an Aussie summer. Kick back, relax, and throw another shrimp on the barbie.
22-23 Manly Wharf, Manly, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9240 3000
Monday to Friday 12pm - 3pm and 5.30pm - 10.30pm
Saturday 11.30am - 10.30pm
Sunday 11.30am - 9pm
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
American barbecue in Austin, Texas
American barbecue in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri
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6/05/2014 12:56:00 am