Shop 106, Oracle Boulevard, Broadbeach. Ph. 5539 0973
“Fast food done well,” The Lamb Shop’s owner Peter Gloftis tells me.
I look at him, glance into the shop, and then down at my food. That’s his mission?
‘He’s the master of understatement!’ I think. This is not ‘fast’ food.
We had been beckoned over to The Lamb Shop by the aromas wafting out into Oracle Boulevard; meat roasting slowly on a spit over high grade charcoal. It’s the stuff of home hearths and heritage, with culinary techniques and family recipes passed down through centuries.
From the 17th century BC, Greeks skewered meat and grilled it over hot coals, the origins of today’s souvlaki. In many areas, meat was a delicacy, with olive oil and herbs flavouring a plant-based diet grown on the hills around them. Terrain and climate dictated the meat available: goat, lamb, chicken and fish rather than beef.
The Lamb Shop pays homage to the farm workers, butchers and cooks who brought food to the family table through love and necessity.
Farmers. Butchers. Chefs.
The Lamb Shop oozes masculinity; a modern take on an old-fashioned butchery with its blue and white heritage tiles, the shop counter low enough to see the spit perched above glowing coals, and your meal being prepared by gorgeous men in leather butchers’ aprons. Peel away the mystique. How we love to watch men at work!
And it’s a workman’s meal: a modern take on traditional souvlaki, with no shortcuts taken. Shoulders of Junee lamb and Byron Bay pork are marinated for 24 hours, then slow-cooked over charcoal for 4 to 5 hours, basted constantly during cooking.
We overlook the very worthy bar menu (chargrilled corn, prawn, octopus and saganaki) to tackle the souvlaki. There are five types of souvlaki on offer, with a choice of two small plates plus sides. We try one of each: Slow-cooked pork packed into a soft pita with onion, parsley, tzatziki and, in a turn which would make the purists blush, chips. They’re not just any chips, though. Hand cut and prepared from scratch in a triple cooking process, they’re gourmet fare! Eaten at the bar with an accompanying beer or wine (The Lamb Shop is fully licensed) or to take away, the souvlaki’s a generous meal.
My ‘small’ plate of slow-cooked lamb arrives, the generous serving of meat freshly cut from the spit. It’s accompanied by tangy tzatziki and quarters of soft pita bread, a lunch unadorned by the refreshment of a salad, which can be ordered as a side. I long for green, but the meat begs to be eaten, its smoky flavours playing with nose and tongue as it yields easily to the bite. Earthy, unfussy, it carries the legacy of coals and herbs that only slow cooking brings.
The flavours play with my imagination as well. If only we could see where this aroma had wafted before through history, what stories would it bring?
‘Fast food?’ I muse. Only from grill to table.
Read more of Marj’s reviews on Good Food Gold Coast http://www.foodgoldcoast.com.au