As if you really need some kind of risk assessment on whether you’re gonna have a good time at LP’s Quality Meats in Chippendale. Of course it’s going to knock you out of orbit – it’s Luke Powell’s first solo venture, and diners have been tracking interest in him for a little while now. The former Tetsuya’s head chef ruined all our waistlines when he came up with Sydney’s best burgers at Mary’s, and more recently was working at Ester while checking progress on the LP’s build around the corner.
The nerve centre of LP’s Quality Meats is a seriously heavyweight smoker that’s been imported from Texas, and the menu is marked by the slow tempo of this wood-fired beast. The current menu includes smoked fish – Smoked Salmon ($18), Blue Mackerel ($22) – and (in zero shock revelation), smoked meats such as Lamb Belly Stuffed With Merguez ($26), Garlic and Paprika Sausage ($14), Short Ribs ($32) that TwoThousand’s Levins says “rival the beef on offer at Franklin BBQ” (without the pain of that legendary establishment’s punishing queues) and Chicken ($24 for half, $42 for whole) that’s so good that a friend from Reuben Hills claimed it was “mutant”. (The knockout power of the chicken is probably due to the fact it is, as Grab Your Fork points out, smoked and deep-fried.) It gets powered up by an accompanying shot of spectacular hot sauce, too, says Will.
There are also cold cuts – Coppa di Testa ($12), Bierwurst ($12), and Will’s favourite, Belly Ham ($12) – which are best ordered as a platter of the three (instead of individual serves) for full intensity and contrast. The slices (which are rounded out by a dish of olives, and the firepower of mustard and pepper) also happen to be ‘fenced off’ by some pretzels – not that they’re any kind of serious barrier to you racing towards this ultra-savoury selection, although these hefty baked sticks are pretty good in their own right.
I was kind of curious as to how I’d fare at LP’s Quality Meats. It’s obvious from name alone that vegetarians aren’t exactly the target demographic of this establishment, but I still had an ultra-delicious experience (as did my not-so-vego companions). I basically ate every single thing I could: starting with the Bread Rolls, which are so soft, sweet and buttery that they almost feel like undercover croissants ($2 each), especially when consumed in the still-warm moment; the Pickles ($14), which turn slices of golden beetroot, carrot and onion into face-squintingly bracing appetite-starters; steamed then deep-fried Corn On The Cob ($12) (so flavour-crusted that I negotiated way more than my fair share of this dish), and the awesome Kale with Chickpeas ($14), which turn pin-up ingredients for clean-eating bores into ludicrously delicious allies – the deep-fried chickpeas arming the boldly dressed leaves with a next-level crunch. The Eggplant Salad ($12) has a tomatoey, spiced kick – the only dish that feels more like it could be mapped in the Middle East than the North American terrain that the menu mainly seems to navigate from.
And even though he’s had it a zillion times before at Mary’s, Will couldn’t help ordering the Mashed Potato and Gravy ($12), which has that carb-blast and heavyset comfort that reminds you why it’s just something you can’t give up on – it’s something you’ll always ask for the table, regardless of all the past serves you’ve had.
The standalone dessert at LP’s Quality Meats is Pouding Chômeur ($12), (aka poor man’s pudding – which feels ironically named, as it’s super rich!). If the French name or the blazing levels of maple syrup aren’t already a giveaway, this dessert has Quebec origins – as does our waitress, who says this ultra-buttery sweet is something locals would eat during snowfall or ultra-cold days. The sugar rush will definitely flush out your cheeks and just a spoonful of this cracking dish will explain why Marc Brandon has (rightly) been pimping it to every person who has mentioned LP’s on Instagram.
The industrial decor steers you back into the site’s past as a mechanic’s garage and accordingly, there’s nothing fussy or stuffy about the space (I like any place that takes its food seriously, but is still good-humoured enough to stick a “Typical Cows” poster on the wall). The atmosphere is pitched at a friendly, casual level, without losing any professional edge. The open kitchen stretches right up to the cool room and shows off the staff in an understated way. (The crack team here, by the way, includes sous chef Shannon Debreceny, who used to be at Three Blue Ducks; pastry chef Kimberly Gastmeier, formerly of Tetsuya’s; and sommelier/front of house James Audas, whose CV also includes Tet’s, Noma and, while working at Black by Ezard, he won the title of Australian Young Waiter of the Year in the Electrolux Appetite for Excellence program.) There’s no shortage of heat in this room – this is obviously a place that’s on fire.