Southern Comforts at The Workers Club
Disclaimer: Jess Pryles is a friend of mine.
Address: The Workers Club, 51 Brunswick St Fitzroy
When: 6pm – 9pm every Wednesday
You may have heard of Burger Mary (A.K.A Jess Pryles), the blogger who criticised that Mexican restaurant (or was it Creole, or Caribbean?) online, and then ended up as a menu consultant there before leaving soon after – and arguably taking all of its potential with her when she left. But she is SO much more than that. She’s a Southern foodspert, a social media specialist who built her Sugadeux cupcake business on Facebook and Twitter, and now, she’s the face (or is that mouth?) of Red River BBQ ShortOrder.
Red River ShortOrder is a BBQ extravaganza that takes place every Wednesday from 6pm until 9pm in Fitzroy. With Burger Mary’s help, what was once a catering business is now packing out The Workers Club with locals hungry for hot sauce. I headed down to see what all the fuss was about, and all the fuss was about this: meat, meat and more meat.
The menu is small but sufficient, allowing the Red River team to do what they do best. They haven't got beef, they know beef, and their brisket is damn fine. You can order it in the 'sandwich' (which is more like a burger) dressed with tangy BBQ sauce, crunchy coleslaw, pickles and onion. I went for the slow smoked pulled pork version. It was bloody tasty, as in, ‘six-serviettes-later’ kind of tasty.
Also gorged upon were the crispy fried chicken wings. If you can handle hot, go for the golden habanero sauce. If not, there’s Red River's own BBQ sauce or honey mustard. We were meant to ‘start’ with the warm queso Tex Mex cheese dip with diced tomato and jalapeños, served with tortilla chips, but we ended up snacking on it in between mouthfuls of pulled pork and wings.
There are also weekly specials, such as cheesy tater tot casserole (like potato gems), handmade smoked beef sausages in natural casings and jalapeño ‘poppers’. After spicy food, I always crave sweets. In fact, after most savoury food I crave sweets. Luckily, checking into Red River BBQ on Facebook earned us a free Sugadeux cupcake; a fluffy red velvet delight with silky cream cheese frosting.
The verdict? Pull on your cowboy boots, prepare your tastebuds and skip lunch, Red River BBQ ShortOrder is definitely worth checking out. And since we visited, there is now a veggie burger available, so you won’t have to do what I did and force a vegetarian to accompany you there on a date.
If you want to know more about Burger Mary, I wrote an article for Agenda about her top 5 meaty Melbourne experiences here. You can also check out her blog here.