Trekked to Dalston to try what Timeout gave 4/5 stars and might have referred to as the best BBQ in London (don't even know if I read their article).
Place is ex-pub, but feels quite light and airy inside. I happened to go on a freak sunny day so the sunshine was flooding in, and the outside tables were full and hopping.
Waiter was Italian by way of Wisconsin and was just about the sweetest waiter I've encountered in all of my meals out, anywhere.
Beef ribs: In pictures they were beef-back ribs, but ours came as short-ribs. They were definitely smoked (evidenced by pink-smoke ring), but unfortunately, for about 2 hours too short as the ribs were still very tough. I found the actual smoke flavour strange -- the smoke imparted some acidic notes which I didn't enjoy; I suspect they weren't using the correct wood in their smokers (i.e., hickory or mesquite). They were then basted with BBQ sauce.
Seasoned fries: Typical skinny fries, though bite was on the dense side. I don't love seasoned fries, but these were fine - I would have preferred about 75% less seasoning as I found them a bit overwhelming.
Fried pickles & okra: Breaded in cornmeal rather than batter (a la meat liquor). Came out very crispy. Okra was better than the pickles (i actually enjoy the ones are Meat Liquor and didn't really love these).
Mac'n'cheese: Typical London m'n'c; baked without sufficient bechamel so more of a mac'n'cheese block than what one gets served in Southern BBQ restaurants in the US (which is usually very creamy).
Home-made BBQ sauces were alleged to be Kansas City and South Carolina styles, but were both really horrible. Kansas City is usually a sweet tomato based concoction while theirs was overwhelmingly bitter. South Carolina is famed for their pork BBQ which is served with mustard based sauces- theirs was like a spoonful of Grey Poupon.
Beers: First has a Paulaner from Munich which is an OK lager; my fault for ordering. Next had their stout which was recommended to go with beef ribs (by a non-beer drinking waiter). Was actually quite nice, and is brewed on premises.
Would I go back? No. Did I enjoy my meal? Not really. Does this place serve authentic BBQ? Maybe, but a shitty incarnation. This might be blasphemous, but I quite like Bodeans for their take on crappy chain BBQ (they serve what you might find at Dallas airport), and would rate this far below. I give them props for actually smoking the meat with an imported smoker, but if you don't serve good food I don't care how much effort you make. I went to Pit Cue in Soho recently and really enjoyed my beef ribs (though hated the place as it was super tiny and very rushed), despite them not being perfect they were at least quite tender and flavourful.
If I wrote aforementioned Timeout article, they'd get a 2/5.
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