Sunday 16 June 2013

BBQ Whisky Beer: A Ronseal Moment

You'd never guess what the lovely people behind London's latest pop-up do. Well okay you might. Its not all that subtle. Its called BBQ Whisky Beer. And that is exactly what it does. Very well indeed.

Set in a Young's pub called the Lord Wargrave near Edgware Road, I wasn't holding out for much.  Apart from being able to transport myself to the karaoke bars of Thailand down the narrow stairs at the Heron Pub nearby, Edgware Road doesn't normally feature as a destination.

Hardly unique, the Wargrave is an identikit London boozer. That is until you look at the back wall. Thereon lies the first difference. Row upon row of neatly written names. Like a roll call of former club captains, their ages written neatly alongside. Mr Laphroaig, 18 years. Mr Glenrothes, 21 years. Mr Talisker 25 years. It goes on, I need not. You get the picture. This place is serious about its whisky, so am I. Suddenly I feel like we could become friends. (On Saturdays they do "Flight Club" - there are even rules - various flights of whisky with ever increasing ages (and prices), well that's at least one Saturday night spoken for in the next few weeks!).

On to the second limb of this triumvirate. The beer. Reasonable selection, nothing to get excited over. It's tied to Youngs. Would love to see a few more of the smaller London breweries included, London Fields, Hackney Brewery, Redchurch Brewery, all great and all local.  Still, not bad.

Now the real reason I was here. The BBQ. While it is easy (relatively speaking) to become London's whisky bar, to top its BBQ leader-board is a taller task. Places like Pitt Cue Co, and more recently Climpsons Arch have really taken BBQ up a notch.

We started with a couple of things from the snack menu. A plate of Chip Bits (you know those little crispy things at the bottom of the chips, the best bits) with Pulled Pork. This took "dirty" to a whole new level. It may have taken at least a couple of minutes off my life, but it was good, really good. Excellent pork, tart BBQ sauce, crispy chips. Like chips and gravy, but much much better. This should become Scotland's national dish - perfect alongside the whiskies.

 We also had chicken wings - sticky, with blue cheese dipping sauce. Like the Monkey Fingers at Meat Mission, although maybe slightly better, bold.

Given that the "snacks" were larger than most main meals (think American-sized), we were struggling a little.  A short break then some ribs and the "Beef Royal" burger. The ribs were spot on - tender meat, great sauce.

The burger itself was great: loosely-packed, well-aged meat, seeded bun.  But it was just too big - burger plus onion rings plus beef rib meat plus mushrooms.  There was no way of getting your mouth round it - I took the onion rings out.  That aside, very good indeed - and in fairness they do do a burger without all the toppings, so maybe that will just teach me. Special mention should be made of the short rib off cuts - these deserved to be more than a topping - they should be a dish in their own right. Celebrated. That good.

The market for American BBQ in London is keen, as is London it appears. Burgers are debated, I wouldn't be surprised if someone has come to blows over whether Pitt Cue or Duke's Brew and Cue serves up the best ribs. So where does BBQ Whisky Beer fit into this. On the whisky front they are so far out ahead there is no competition. On the beer, a little behind the pack. So by all accounts the BBQ should be smack bang in the middle. But it is a little better than that. Those ribs were as good as anywhere, with a little tweaking the burger could be too. The perfect accompaniments for my induction to Flight Club.

Follow them on twitter @BBQWhiskyBeer

*All drinks and food were provided courtesy of BBQ Whisky Beer, thanks guys.


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