We’re serious barbecue fans, so it’s probably an understatement to say that we were excited at the prospect of putting Red Dog Saloon’s “authentic American BBQ” to the test.
The initial signs were very good. They even hold Man V Food style eating challenges and have a burger called The Devastator (which contains three 6oz patties, 200g pulled pork & 6 rashers of bacon). However, if you look Red Dog up online, you’ll see that it’s attracted some very mixed reviews since opening its doors in July 2011. The only true test though, is to see for yourself.
We’d booked a table for 7:30pm and it’s a good job too because the place was filling up fast. After spending a few minutes evading passing waiters at the busy bar, we were seated. We quickly opted for eight buffalo wings to start, followed by the tantalisingly named carnivore platter. The latter consists of all their smoked meats and two sides per person for £19.95 each. Unfortunately, they were out of chicken and instead we were told that we could have a little more of everything else, which sounded fair enough.
When the wings came, it struck us that they were a little on the small side. However, they had a nice, crispy crust, which I assume came from being dipped in flour prior to frying. They were tasty enough and the blue cheese sauce was delicious, but we both agreed we’d had much better wings elsewhere in town.
After a little bit of a wait, the carnivore platter arrived and certainly looked imposing. It was big, so big that it took up most of the table (that’s a lot of meat). The beef rib was first to go, I’ve never eaten anything quite like it. On the outside, it had a thick, black, chewy bark (crust) and was soft, tender and gelatinous underneath. We really enjoyed it but I’d only recommend it if you don’t mind a bit of fat with your meat.
The pulled pork was flavoursome and I was delighted to see that it was still recognisable as pork. I often find this dish to be shredded to the point that it becomes fibrous, before being drowned in overly sweet BBQ sauce. This certainly wasn’t the case here but it was a little on the dry side. The hot link was, well, just a big sausage, albeit a tasty one.
My least favourite thing on the plate was the pork ribs. On the menu, it says that they are St. Louis cut (gristly tips removed). However, ours hadn’t been properly trimmed and were just spare ribs. They were also quite possibly the most disappointing ones I’ve had in a specialist BBQ restaurant. As well as being very dry and too thin, they were also black all over. As a result, it was difficult to determine which bits were good to eat and which were not.
Unfortunately, most of the sides were rather underwhelming too. The coleslaw was palatable but looked a little sad and the mac n cheese was bland and lacked any bite. We also had fries and a portion of meaty beans, which in fairness tasted pretty good.
By this point, I’d started to feel the onset of the meat sweats so perhaps this was a case of too much of a good thing? In the end, I was defeated by the amount of meat and level of richness of both types of rib. I guess it would’ve been better balanced if we’d had the chicken to break up the fattiness after all. Needless to say, we skipped dessert.
Unfortunately then, this is another mixed review for Red Dog Saloon. One thing’s for sure, you’d be hard pushed to find a more authentic BBQ joint in London but I’ve definitely enjoyed the food more at a few other places in town. The service was polite and attentive and I would consider returning for the beef ribs, but with all the options out there, I doubt it will be any time soon.
Meal for two, including service with two drinks – £65.53
Note: The photograph of The Devastator was kindly supplied by Red Dog Saloon and is not an exact match to what we saw.