Having outgrown their popular food truck, travelling slow-cookers Miss Moonshine’s have set up a permanent space to serve their signature combination of American barbecue and modern New Zealand cuisine. The brand new establishment can be found in a lane way tucked behind Ponsonby retail complex Lot 3.
Like their food union, the space marries opposing styles and textures; from large raw cut logs to tartan wall decal and crisp light fittings. A long table is set aside for smaller groups in the centre and manages to feel like one big dinner party once full. It also allows a view of kitchen where you’ll be stimulated by the restaurant’s pride and joy, a 1.5 tonne smoker. Imported from the U.S, the cooker works night and day to infuse large cuts of meat with the local flavours of manuka and pohutukawa timber, and when opened, it gives off wafts of smoke that circulate the room; you’ll leave with a faint smell on your clothes.
The menu is predominantly meat based - if you hadn’t already gathered from the colossal smoker or the large cow mural staring back at you on the rear wall. The Kiwi twist comes via the aforementioned smoker infusions and dishes like beer can chicken, smoked kahawai and Cloudy Bay clams. Further starters include buttermilk fried chicken, wild boar sausage in a rich lentil gravy, the alluring magic mushrooms, and homemade cornbread - a must have. The well-priced helping ($6) comes with burnt butter and has an unexpected spice.
The beef brisket is smoked for 16-hours and pulls away with little effort, while retaining some crunchy burnt ends. The addition of sliced pickle and, what the waiter described as “sauce ju”, were a nice touch, though the smoked bone sauce didn’t particularly add much to the especially smoky option. I recommended ordering sides to break up the meat quota and freshen up your palette. This is where the crisp apple slaw and collard greens play their part well.
The permanent fixture still manages to salute its lunch wagon roots with a bar housed inside a Bedford truck in the lane way. Cocktails are based around moonshine, made in collaboration with local gin enthusiasts Rogue Society. The 50% proof alcohol is cleverly livened up with flavours like vanilla, passionfruit, strawberry, cola and cherry. The only let down is the paper bag covered bottles, hiding the vibrant colours.
There may still be a couple of crinkles to iron out - like the organisation of table numbering - but by the time they're ready to evolve into an all day affair within the next few months, they'll likely be all resolved. A meaty addition to Ponsonby.