Mr Big Stuff Bringing Soul to Melbourne
Mr Big Stuff is an outstanding and chic soul food destination in Melbourne, named after a 1970s disco song from Jean Knight. Serving the soul food of the American south with a New York style fit out, Mr Big Stuff is a playful and highly satisfying culinary experience.
Mr Big Stuff is about the whole experience. Music is a big element of this restaurant with tracks playing over a quality sound system, with DJ sessions on some nights.
Mr Big Stuff brings something fresh to Melbourne, benefitting from the skills of high profile chef ex Grossi Florentino chef Louis Naeples. For The World Loves Melbourne this was fine dining in a casual, cool and chic ambience. This was the sort of place you bring friends to impress with its modernity, cuisine on trend, and uniqueness in Melbourne.
The name Mr Big Stuff is from a 1970s disco song, featuring Jean Knight, with the line "Mr Big Stuff, who do you think you are?" This restaurant knows who it is, bringing the food and the funk, and this includes DJ sessions with vynl. Owned by Melbournians, but Melbournians with a passion for music from their youth including R&B and Hip Hop.
Some punters come here purely for the Pig ear chips and American beer. These chips are moorish and don't let the "pig ears" name put you off.
Mr Big Stuff was well patronised on the Tuesday night we visited, with a young hip crowd enjoying the New York vibe. Bernard and the rest of the staff were on song, with American style attentive service in Melbourne. A small thing I know, but it was great to get recommendations from staff on dishes they had actually tasted and enjoyed.
These Pickled Okra delights were a treat, flavoursome and crunchy.
Soul food is popularised by dishes such as Mac & Cheese, with the Mr Big Stuff version a triumph with 3 cheeses and a superb crust featuring fine breadcrumbs. The creaminess was excellent with richness of quality cheese, while the crusty bake top with golden hues was perfect.
The most popular dish here is the Fried Chicken & Waffles, with spiced maple syrup. This really is the pinnacle of comfort soul food. The chicken was appropriately juicy and skin crisp. And it was the combination with the waffles that thrilled, sweet and savoury coming together in a way Elvis would have appreciated. And to top it off I poured spiced maple syrup all over my dish in soul food abandonment with no thought of the healthy food pyramid.
Mr Big Stuff also excelled with Spring Bay Mussels with Okra, bacon, coriander and tomato. The mussels were perfectly cooked and the sauce excellent. We needed some corn bread to mop up the sauce. We enjoyed this dish as another archetype of soul food. It was so compelling that we asked for more corn bread to mop up the sauce.
This corn bread was so good, not too dry.
American beers and cocktails are the name of the game.
Jerk Chicken was wonderful featuring a spicy Portuguese mix. Arguably this was the highlight of the light, with groans as we ate. Slow cooked chicken and compelling spices.
The food at Mr Big Stuff has southern influences but the fit out is New York style with great use of timbers and the look of a studio. The orange/red lighting has a retro feel, as does some well placed art work.
I enjoyed the Vanilla Ice Ice Baby cocktail, featuring Maker's Mark Bourbon, Cold Brew Vanilla Black Tea, Fresh Cold Pressed Apple & Lemon Juice. So refreshing but pleasingly you could taste the alcohol.
Mr Big Stuff specialises in adult tea cocktails, all the rage in NYC.
Pork Ribs with Slaw and Bourbon sauce was delectable, with the pork a la pork belly style with welcome fat. Slow cooked for hours the pork was exceptionally tender, and the Bourbon sauce gave some kick.
A funky salad accompanied.
Dessert list provides just 2 dessert options, but both are impressive, including this Quince and Rhubarb Cobbler. The Cobbler is in fact a crispy biscuit, which wonderfully soaked the fruit, ice cream and sauce. This was more like a deconstructed cobbler from what I've seen in the States, where fruit is poured into a baking tray with biscuit over the top.
These mini Apple pies had a golden biscuit like crust, and were spiced up with cinamon and spiced rum.
Mr Big Stuff is a place I would return to for its cool vibe, standout service and soul food with finesse. Highly recommended.