Padstow has a surprising Texan barbeque joint in the carpark of a church. The permanent digs for Bottom of the Barrel BBQ happened during the pandemic as a clever pivot for the normally roving food truck. The family-run business is led by pittmaster Dave Thomas, who spends his evenings slow-roasting large hunks of meat over ironbark. The aroma hits you as soon as you pull up in the gravel carpark (ignore the churchgoers only sign). The menu is succinct and totally meat-focused: rolls, plates and burgers that showcase Dave’s smoked maple bacon. The pork plate ($23.50/250 grams) teams a tender and juicy fistful of pulled pork with a good dollop of your choice of salad and a pillowy soft damper roll. The meat is fragrant with wood-fire smoke and quite savoury, while the lashings of barbeque sauce add welcome sweetness. Creamy but simple yellow-tinged potato salad is a nice foil to the sweet and savoury pulled meat.
True barbeque fanatics are all about the burnt ends, the charred bits at the fattier, pointy end of the brisket. They should have dark ‘bark’ on at least one side, adding plenty of flavour from fatty caramelisation. You can try them here on the mix plate ($32.50/350 grams) alongside slices of stretchy brisket, a pile of pulled pork, your choice of salad and a vibrant thick slab of cucumber pickle. Coleslaw is a good option for this plate as it cuts the fat and gives you some crispness when you lay your favourite selection of items onto your own flour-dusted soft damper roll. This was some of the easiest to eat American barbeque I’ve had in Sydney.
There are five or six well-spaced tables on the church’s wide covered verandah. It’s strung with festoon lights so you can sit and savour your barbeque by day or night, along with a bathroom where you can wash up. While the Thomas family are members of the church (it’s how they came to be stationed in its carpark) they did keep the pulled pork and the proselytising separate on my visit.