The verdict? This really is the most authentic BBQ smoked meat we have eaten in the UK. There were some other issues along the way but these are forgiven because the most important part of the meal in a BBQ restaurant is what's been sitting in the smoker for 16 hours and here, it was very good indeed. The picture below doesn't do it entire justice because BBQ is usually messy rather than pretty and we ordered the Carnivore Platter for 2 - 'a proud selection of all our smoked meats', which means you get pork ribs, a beef rib, a sausage, pulled pork and a half chicken. Put that all on one plate, piled high, and it's difficult to make it look good but we don't really care, because importantly, it tasted right.
The sticky glaze is evident immediately the food is set down in front of you, but on tasting, the food is full on BBQ, not just a token nod in that direction, for the impact of the smoker leaves its mark with every mouthful. But it remains carefully tended and the chicken retained all its moistness, the ribs fall off the bone as they should but were similarly juicy (coming too with burnt ends) and the sausage simply felt the business. There's Kansas sauce and Carolina sauce at the table which we used to add a little more pep to the pulled, pork but this plate, the Carnivore Platter, could equally be called the Carnivore Dream and without doubt rates as the best BBQ experience we've so far enjoyed in the UK.
But like kids in a sweet shop, we did order actual desserts too as these were also quintessentially American: key lime pie, pecan pie, and Mississippi mud pie. Again, these missed the mark. The key lime pie looked pretty lame when served up but tasted better than it looked (thankfully), albeit it was way too sweet and lacked the tartness a good key lime pie should have.
The Mississippi mud pie, which should be a chocolate lovers delight was, chocolate wise, nothing more than a mass of chocolate ice cream, and even that wasn't that great (and excessively frozen).
Every member of staff was smiling, everyone seemed happy and that mood defined the restaurant. It's very informal, as a BBQ saloon should be, and our waitress Rachel was fantastic from start to finish. An office Christmas party in full swing across the room from us was most readily accommodated by staff, including requests for a cheesy Christmas soundtrack that turned the restaurant into one giant festive celebration. Such parties, so often intolerable for others in the room, was a walk in the park for Red Dog and made the restaurant seem even more cheerful, and that is no small trick to pull off.
We will certainly return to Red Dog Saloon, because when we want BBQ, following today's showing, it has to be the go to BBQ place for us. Yes Pitt Cue Co does great food, but it's not classic BBQ. Looking at our own post, we enjoyed pork head and kimchi on our visit: smart and progressive yes, but if you just want a rack of ribs and/or half a chicken, Pitt Cue simply isn't that place. Red Dog is also larger, has more comfortable furniture and takes bookings.
The smoked meats are excellent, the service is excellent. Sides and desserts need a little work. But in sum total, Red Dog Saloon is close to being very good (authentic) indeed.
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