One of my first work projects involved spending a lot of time around Smithfield and the Four Courts area. I was reasonably new to Dublin and to be quite honest, some of things I witnessed in that area did little to enamour the area to me. In fact, if I was in charge of public health, I might have erected a biohazard zone in some places. Smithfield Square had been built, but even with the large Fresh supermarket, it felt like a big, grey, desolate space. The Celtic Tiger Thomas Read's pub failed, just like our economy, and a horde of marauding zombies probably wouldn't have felt out of place. In fact, they'd have brightened the place up a bit.
I wasn't the only person disappointed by the regeneration project at Smithfield, but slowly, inch by painful inch, the area is coming to life. The old Park Inn hotel is now the Generator Hostel, complete with Jameson whiskey bottle chandelier and a buzzing atmosphere. The Lighthouse Cinema has survived bad times and is now a well-established alternative cinema. But any self-respecting area cannot consider itself as truly regenerated until the hipsters arrive. If only hipsters could exist without jam-jar glasses, if only.
|Standing outside My Meat Wagon|
And if my visit to the recent Big Grill festival taught me anything, it was that hipsters like BBQ. It's like catnip to them. BBQ, craft beers and RayBans seem to complete the hipster trinity. Therefore, the opening of My Meat Wagon, an American BBQ restaurant, in the corner between the Lighthouse and Oscars is part of the Smithfield barometer.
First things first, I really liked the decor at My Meat Wagon. There are jute sacks, rough wooden planking, galvanised zinc sheets and suspended pallets. We have many storage sheds with all these ingredients on our family farm, except that no West Cork farmer ever thought of setting up a BBQ in their shed. Despite all these design clichés, the overall effect here simply works, with low, warm lighting and original bluegrass music.
|The simple menu at My Meat Wagon|
|Beef good (tofu bad) - seating at My Meat Wagon|
We both ordered the Meat on a Board with a mix of Cow, Pig and Bird. To be honest, I was a little perplexed why beef and pork get named, but the source of "Bird" remained a mystery. Each board has a main meat, accompanied by a selection of other cuts and two sides. BBQ chicken has often been a disappointment to me, left dry and dusty by the BBQ process, but here there was a darkly golden laminated skin with juicy meat underneath.
The Ole Hickory Texas smoker shipped over to sit at the heart of My Meat Wagon had been equally good to the soft, deliciously fatty beef rib, chorizo sausage and excellent pulled pork. Beef brisket, normally my go-to BBQ meat, was a little dry but tasted well. Sides were equally well executed with mash, fresh slaw and fries (served in a mini shopping trolley, perhaps a tribute to the River Liffey?).
|Meat board with pig, bird and cow|
There is much to like about My Meat Wagon and it seems like Dublin is not done with BBQ food yet Two huge meat boards, a beer and a glass of white wine came to under €50 with friendly and efficient service. What started out as a small gourmet burger van has matured into a slick, fine BBQ, which would not be out of place in the US. In fact, I'd definitely rate it above quite a few US joints that I've visited. By the time we finished eating, my initial skepticism over the design had been utterly defeated by the fine meat treatment. Put the diet to one side and order the beef rib with sausage. Trust me...
My Meat Wagon, Smithfield Market Square, Dublin 7
Tel: +353 (0)1 874 8172