Disclaimer: Rumblingteddy and friend dined as guests of Third Wave.
American barbecue used to be a rare thing in Melbourne, found sporadically through the city, but in the past half a year or so it has taken Melbourne by storm, with more American barbecue haunts opening up than I can keep up with.
Couple of months back Third Wave cafe popped up on my radar, opening a new cafe up in Prahran alongside their long standing Port Melbourne counter part. I studiously made a note of it on my “to try” list. Now, Third Wave isn’t just about smoked ribs, briskets and meat. What makes it that little bit more special, is that it’s an American barbecue inspired cafe with a Russian twist.
Since it specialises in American barbecue and Russian cuisine, I wanted to have a little taster of both. However, when I took a look at the menu I was overwhelmed, there was way too many options, so many that I gave up reading it and asked for suggestions from our lovely waitress instead. The good thing was I am a sucker for ribs, so that decision was relatively easy to make. But, pork or beef? That is the question.
In the end, pork was the winner. I loved the smokey tenderness of the ribs coated in dry spices and I really liked that the cafe chose ribs where bone met cartilage, meaning that not only can I savour the meat, but I could also crunch on the cartilage. By themselves the ribs were a little bit light on salt for my taste, but not a problem that’s what the spicy BBQ sauce was for. I found this BBQ sauce very addictive as it was not overly sweet and contained a subtle kick from the Tabasco. The chips were nothing to write home about, but they were adequately crunchy and thick, a nice side to have, but nothing more. I know a lot of people love chips with their ribs, but for me the chips weren’t necessary, because the coleslaw was a better companion anyway. I found that the addition of crunchy tangy apple in the coleslaw really helped to diffuse some of that meaty goodness.
I really wanted to try the Russian sampler plate (26.90), but my dining companion and I didn’t want to waste food by ordering too much, so we went for the much tamer sounding Russian salad. I’m not too sure if we made the smartest decision, failing to account for the fact that a potato salad was probably going to be very very filling. This was not just an ordinary filling salad, it was a very filling potato salad, studded with hard-boiled eggs, roasted chicken, carrots and peas. This was not a dish that wowed me, but it was a humble dish with the right balance. I enjoyed the sweet taste of carbohydrate combined with the creamy, slightly tangy dressing of Dijon mustard and mayo, the real pops of delight in this salad was the sour pickles. Being an already carb heavy salad, I question the necessity of more carbs in the form of a toasted piece of sour dough. It was a good piece of sour dough, but was it really necessary?
With a bright, airy dinning room and attentive, bubbly service, it is a cafe I can see myself as a regular in, if I lived in the area. Unfortunately I do not. But I think my curiosity will win over one day and I will come back to try that Russian sampler plate on an emptier stomach.