Situated in New Lynn’s Brickworks, which looks and feels a bit like Ponsonby Central out west, Cleaver & Co is a classic American BBQ joint and absolute mecca for meat fiends.
The menu features over 40 dishes and a dozen types of meat, all prepped in a giant imported barbeque smoker taking pride of place in the midst of stylishly masculine décor: brick, unvarnished wood and concrete; no frills or flowers in mason jars to be seen.
Packed with local families who seemed to be regulars on the Sunday evening we visited, the spot has plenty of laid-back atmosphere and charm, and we couldn’t fault the service: friendly and attentive, our drinks came out promptly and we were told upfront that the wait time for food was 45 minutes.
The Pitmaster Platter for two ($59.90) is the go if you want to sample a bit of everything (add $20 for a jug of Mac’s Gold or Lion Red). A half-kilo of St. Louis pork rack ribs, beef brisket, crispy chicken wings, mac 'n' cheese bites, smoked meatballs, gunpowder prawns and pork sausage later, the dreaded meat sweats start to come on – but you won’t mind one bit.
Everything was delectable, with the exception of the macaroni bites, which were lacking cheese and a touch floury. But who cares when the meat’s falling off the bone and so beautifully flavoured?
The meal was rounded off with a superbly velvety slice of key lime pie (I’m a Dexter fan) and a second jug of Mac’s. Our ‘quick bite’ had officially turned into a Sunday session that was well worth the trip … and yours will be too.