I’m going to keep this review short and sweet…actually make that short and smoky.
It’s been the talk of the town for the past two weeks since its opening, you know the place? Of course you do! It’s called Smokehouse and Cellar and you HAVE to get yourself down there.
Situated across from Spinningfields at 18 Lloyd Street, the restaurant’s basement digs are the epitome of smokehouse-cool. Large, brass Pulsner Urquell tanks sit proudly in the midst of the tables; a mostly-wood interior combined with shiny metals and exposed copper light fixtures provide a high-class-hoe-down mood.
We took our seats and agreed – this was a mighty handsome joint.
Looking over the extensive menu, spoilt for choice is most definitely an understatement. I had already picked my orders for future trips before placing my starter order with our friendly and knowledgeable server who in hindsight I really wish I had asked to be my friend – she was fun AND worked in a smokehouse – the perfect foundation for friendship.
I went for wings.
Considering their “XL” description, I was a little bit disappointed with their size. Excitedly imagining pterodactyl portions, there was nothing which indicated these chick’s wings had pumped their biceps any harder than your average lazy hen, however with a price point of £5.95, I felt this was fair for the portion you received.
Opting for the Honey Jerk BBQ coating, the wings arrived piping hot, shining with a succulent glaze. The meat was juicy and flavourful, with just the right balance of sweet and heat.
With a so many sumptuous starters to choose from, I’m looking forward to making a bolder choice on my next visit; however if you’re looking for a safe order, I’d definitely opt for the wings as the perfect warm-up for the main event.
Next up came the burger, the “Pitmaster Meat Stack”, self-proclaimed meat king of the lot. A combination of low-and-slow cooked meats, I couldn’t resist sampling the best of what the Smokehouse had to offer in between two fluffy buns. It’s tagline? “Not for the faint hearted.”
The burger arrived, a miniature mountain on a wooden serving platter. Struggling to pick it up, I admitted defeat at my inability to get my chops around it and resorted to dissecting some of the key components before tackling the monster again.
Tearing slices of USDA beef brisket from its humble abode, these moan-inducing morsels hardly needed chewing. Falling apart effortlessly, I was seriously impressed with some of the softest mouthfuls of house-smoked BBQ I’ve had this side of the Atlantic.
Similarly decadent, the pulled pork was moist and tender. Smothered in house BBQ sauce, the balance of tangy house rub with sweet sauce gave the burger the ultimate southern-comfort element giving it an additional delicious dimension.
Now at a more compact size, I took the burger with both hands now able to fully appreciate the marriage of flavours which combined contrasting meaty, rich textures with sweet chilli jam, crispy-fried onions, fresh bites of lettuce and crunchy red onion.
A very satisfactory burg.
My only negative with this particular pile-up, was the dryness of the double stack patties. Boasting its glorious meaty-ness in the menu description, I was a little disappointed to find the burger portion of the stack overcooked and lacking in seasoning. A minor thing overall however I feel this could be easily improved with a more tender chuck of meat, and since we’re getting crazy over here, why not throw in a miniature pan of gravy for the ultimate moist-maker?
The beer-battered onion rings were crackling-ly crisp, chunky with succulent sweet bites of white onion lying under its savoury coating. Definitely order these.
Since coming into the spotlight, this place has received an abundance of mixed reviews – those edging towards the negative side however are mostly down to simple teething problems which I feel will slowly drip away as Smokehouse finds its feet.
Overall, my experience was an extremely positive one. Delicious meats, lip-licking sauces and good ol’ southern hospitality were a running theme of the restaurant, and really, what gets much better than that?
I have full confidence Smokehouse and Cellar will only improve in time, like any meat-brandishing establishment – low and slow is always the way to go.