If you're anything like us, even the thought of slow-cooked smoked meats gets your mouth salivating. The time and precision taken to perfect a rack of ribs or a brisket that pulls apart like butter is hard to master, which is why we prefer heading to a spot that knows how to ace it every time.
One of our go-to spots in Auckland for a taste of slow-cooked BBQ is Cleaver & Co. New Lynn, home of 'Betsey' – their smoker who travelled from Tennessee to smoke around the clock at C&C.
The decor sets the scene from the moment you set foot inside. Warm low-hanging lighting, leather booths and smooth wooden tables, red neon, exposed brick and an overall rustic aesthetic, transporting you straight to the southern states of the USA. Famous for their comfort food, Cleaver & Co. have taken a page out of the USA's books and brought a bunch of the cult-favourites to New Lynn.
Starting with Lite Bites, we recommend some jalapeño poppers, Buffalo chicken wings, and cheesy garlic bread to get geared up before tackling any main dishes. Cleaver & Co's onion rings and mac 'n' cheese bites are well worth the consideration as well.
Once you've started to gather an appetite, it's time to hit the Betsey section of the menu. With all meat smoked on Pohutukawa for at least 12 hours, everything on this side of the menu is going to be jaw-dropping.
Take your pick from St Louis pork ribs with Memphis BBQ sauce, the rindless pork belly with apple sauce and jus, or the juicy beef brisket with jus and pickles, all served with a side of slaw to add a bite of freshness to your plate. Once again, if you're like us – you'll be ordering all three for the table.
If a burger is more your thing, you'll be pleased to know Cleaver & Co. carry a wide range of insta-worthy burger stacks, including their Yankee Cheeseburger with a grass-fed beef patty and their fried chicken and brisket burgers, all served up with a side of thick steak fries.
Keep it classic and order an all-America thickshake in one of their three gourmet flavours, or make a night of it and start a round of beers with plenty of bottled classics and craft brews on tap.
If you can manage, save room for dessert because their Something Sweet section is not something you want to miss out on. With three options, there's a dessert to suit every kind of sweet tooth. Starting with the star of the show, the Snickers Sundae is not for the faint-hearted. Rolls of vanilla ice cream fill the bowl, with peanuts, caramel, chocolate sauce, Oreo cookies, and whipped cream ladled on top.
If you're wanting something a little less intimidating, opt for the Dark Chocolate Mousse with berry compote and cookie crumbs or the classic Apple Pie with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce to keep it simple.
Whether you're heading out for an indulging date night or looking for a spot to please everyone (did we mention they also do platters?) Cleaver & Co. will have you counting down the days to your next visit. Between the friendly relaxed atmosphere, great service, and quality dishes, it's hard to find a flaw in amongst everything.
Open 7 days a week, you can fulfil your comfort food cravings any day of the week with a quick visit to New Lynn. Book your table here to ensure you've secured a spot to get your hands on some slow-cooked smoked goodness.