Restaurant review: Red’s True Barbecue by Theo Fordham

December 11, 2015

With burger and barbecue pop-ups springing up all over the place in East London, it is easy to get lost in the meaty streets and find somewhere that will be around for more than a few months at a time.

Say hello to Red’s True Barbecue. Based on the bustling Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch, we happened upon this barbecue heaven on a cool evening – the perfect food to trick ourselves into thinking the summer was not yet over. The restaurant was filled with the smells of burnt ends and wings as soon as we walked through the door.

Split over two separate floors, the site boasts an upstairs restaurant and a separate bar downstairs where you are able to sit, drink in hand, should you have to wait for a table. The restaurant was busy, given most people were still recovering from a bank holiday weekend, but we sat down straight away where a waitress presented us with menus that were literally meat bibles.

After what seemed like an hour of deciding what to drink, let alone what to eat, we ordered four of the most popular cocktails from Ellard, our very efficient waitress. Service is something that should come with a smile and that Red’s certainly delivers on. Luckily she did not choose to give us a ‘Red Cow’ – a cocktail that involves ‘jalapeno brine’ and gravy. Rather niche to say the least. The cocktails that arrived included an apple and elderflower martini and a honey berry smash – both very tasty.

Finally the time arrived to choose the food. With endless pages of pork, chicken, beef and loads of sides it was fairly difficult to agree on what to eat. We decided to order a bit of everything and share our meaty delights. First up was burnt ends, deep fried macaroni cheese balls, sticky wings and ‘swine fries’ – chips covered in cheese, soured cream – and more pulled pork (because you can never have enough right?!). The burnt ends were a firm favourite. Served rather dubiously on a doorwedge-esque piece of white bread (hey, why not?) they smelt and tasted delicious.

Onto the main event and more barbecued meat. We ordered more than enough just to make sure we had a chance to taste the somewhat less conventional items on the menu – Donut burger any one?! On the table appeared a rack of Memphis-Dry St Louis ribs, Red’s Pulled Pork n Slaw Plate, The Sleepy James and of course, The Donut Burger.

The ribs were hands down the best we had ever tasted. Sticky, sweet and melt-in-the-mouth meat that slides off the bone. The pulled pork was equally delicious – somewhat wet, but was complimented brilliantly with the crunchy slaw that accompanied it. Then onto The Sleepy James…what is a Sleepy James I hear you ask? Well, you’ll never guess so I shall tell you. Chicken breast, bacon, cheese, onions (all quite normal so far…) and sauce sandwiched between two waffles. Yes, you heard me right: waffles. The Donut Burger was an equally interesting creation – none of us were convinced that donuts should replace burger buns! This was all accompanied by fat, juicy onion rings, deliciously soft sweet potato fries and some braised greens that, despite being covered in butter, were probably the only remotely healthy part of the meal.

Making sure our pudding stomachs were still in order, we chose an ice cream sundae and a peach and pecan crumble for pudding. The crumble was the better of the two – sticky peaches with a crunchy topping and a big scoop of creamy ice cream.

A veritable feast was had by all and the jokes about getting stuck in the door or rolling home continued into the night. A great little spot if you are feeling (very) hungry and in the mood for some serious meat-eating. Warning, vegetarians need not apply!

Red’s True Barbecue, 54-56 Great Eastern St, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3QR


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