The gas versus charcoal grilling debate is a longstanding one. Luckily for us, we were invited to taste some of Charcoal on O’Connell‘s grilled goodness to try and bust this myth ourselves – or at least determine a preference between the two, supported with the experience of taste, if we did not already have one before.
Charcoal on O’Connell (previously In ‘N’ Out BBQ) is one of the few places in Adelaide that barbecue their meat directly over a charcoal fire. So why do some swear by this method of grilling over your conventional gas grilling? Apparently the answer is in simple science. As the meat grilling over a charcoal fire heats up, it releases drippings of water, protein, seasonings, oils and juicy fat (which, lets admit, takes any steak to its finest), that hit the hot coals below, vapourises and rises back up into the meat whence it came from. To us, this sounds like a flavour-packed serving of meat and this is arguably how you get the outstanding flavour in charcoal meats.
Now that we’ve gotten the science part out of the way, a taste-test is all we need to form an assertive opinion. Owner Bill, is warm, passionate and friendly, and tells us that all their dips are fresh and lovingly homemade. He serves up a trio of these dips – Baba Ghanouj (eggplant dip), Hommus and Garlic to go with a selection of charcoal meats from their menu.
The Mixed Grill comes with chicken wings, a lamb chop and a sausage. He also adds a Lebanese Quail on top. A side of light and tangy garden salad balances out this dish for us, and the meats – especially the lamb chop, are succulent and flavoursome. Given the variety of meats on this plate it would be necessary to bring a big appetite.
We then try the Atlantic Salmon Plate – A grilled salmon fillet with Sweet Potato Chips, Tabouli and Mixed Pickles(also homemade). The salmon is grilled with its skin on to retain the crispiness on one side and also the thin layer of fat underneath the skin to exude more flavour into the fillet.
Next is a trio of skewers – Chicken, Lamb and Kafta (mixture of beef and lamb mince) on a bed of hot chips and garden salad on the side. These skewers were so juicy, and had been nicely coated with the compounds from the grilling process, which added to the amazing flavour, with the chicken being the standout for me along with the Garlic Dip which I was also constantly dipping every chip into.
The final meat contender is a 300g Scotch Fillet which we choose to have with the Diane sauce, with hot chips and Tabouli salad. This all in all came out on top for me, the steak is nothing short of wonderful with a smokey flavoured exterior, and tender, almost buttery inside. Perfect with the Diane sauce and crispy chips and fresh tabouli.
Although no myths were busted on this visit, we can definitely see what all the fuss over real charcoal barbecue is about, and can appreciate the unique taste that charcoal grilling adds to a piece of meat. A return is imminent for us to try the other dishes on the menu, and for another dipping spree into that dreamy Garlic Dip. Special thanks to Bill for the warm invitation, great food and amazing hospitality.
Words by Yasmine Yusuri
WHERE: 40A O’Connell St, North Adelaide