What could be better than a hearty barbecue flamed over the coals at one of London’s coolest hangouts this summer? From Hoxton to Clapham, we’ve sought out the perfect haunts for those of you who love a shrimp or two on the barbie or a low-and-slow cooked beef brisket
Words: Madeleine Howell
1 Smokey Tails at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen
Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen is now the official home to Smokey Tails, which began life as a cult East London pop-up and headed off to Miami, Melbourne and Amsterdam before settling down for good. We’re glad they came back – as a barbecue offering, it’s second to none. The fact that it’s served in a venue that’s perfect for intimate DJ sets and that has played host to the likes of Mumford & Sons, Major Lazer and Florence + The Machine is an added bonus. The menu itself is dubbed ‘Midwestern modern’ and we couldn’t get enough of Grandma T’s Fried Chicken and the smoked lambs belly croquettes, and the veggie offering is equally delish, whether you opt for the halloumi or the miso aubergine with smoked tofu. It’s just as well the food is so good, because you’ll need it to soak up the cocktails. Try the Detroit Cobra – a winning combination tequila, Mezcal, cucumber, chilli and lime. Our only regret was that we didn’t have room for more – next visit we’re up for the mac ’n’ cheese with pulled pork and the burnt brown butter and pecan chocolate brownie…
2-4 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NU; hoxtonsquarebar.com; smokeytails.co.uk
2 The Jam Tree, Clapham Old Town
If you know Clapham Old Town, you’ll know The Jam Tree, famous for slightly off-the-wall jam-based cocktails and shots. We love the butterscotch schnapps and strawberry puree of the Jammy Dodger and the nostalgic novelty of the Rhubarb and Custard Sweet. Now, they’ve also launched a barbecue served up either in the main bar or in the hidden walled garden behind the bookcases. It’s a grill with a global feel, and I especially liked the inclusion of the phaldari seekh kebab (vegetarian) – a subtly spiced green plantain, paneer & cashew nut skewer, along with traditional favourites like the cheese burger, tiger prawns and rack of ribs. We reckon the king fish steak, marinated with sesame, horseradish & yuzu is also worth a try, and we left feeling very jammy indeed. (For barbecue fans in SW6, visit The Jam Tree on King’s Road).
13-19 Old Town, Clapham SW4 0JT; thejamtree.com
3 Red’s True Barbecue, Shoreditch
For a true Texan-style barbecue, you need to go to Red’s True Barbecue on Shoreditch’s Great Eastern Street. It’s an altar to slow-cooked meats served in a churchy, vaudeville inspired interior where you can also sup on bourbon, craft beer and cocktails. The indulgent Donut Burger is infamous – with two patties, melted cheese, smoked peppered bacon and dirty sauce between two glazed donuts, it’s not for the faint-hearted. Side-wise, there’s the swine fries, sweet potato skin-on fries topped with grilled cheese and chipotle. If there’s four of you, go completely mad and order the BBQ feast. Amen.
54-56 Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch EC2A 3QR; truebarbecue.com
4 The Blues Kitchen, various locations
No barbecue round-up would be complete without a mention of The Blues Kitchen. In Camden, Brixton and Shoreditch outposts, enjoy live music and a barbecue slowly smoked in-house using a blend of hickory, oak, mesquite and fruit woods. For starters, there’s catfish jambalaya, or New Orleans gumbo chicken and sausage stew, and then for the main event there’s the burgers, brisket and ribs, all served with fries and ‘slaw. If you’d like to be a little more virtuous, the superfood and shrimp taco salads are good too. The blues might be the mother of American music, but we say this is the mother of barbecues…
5 The Alwyne Castle, Highbury
Up at The Alywyne Castle in Highbury, there’s room for 300 sun-worshippers to gather and guzzle. It’s alfresco dining at its best, and in the summer months there’s an outdoor bar and the requisite heaters should the fickle British weather let you down. If you like a steak, there’s the 21 day ages 8oz sirloin. Otherwise, just order a chicken and avocado burger, a brisket sandwich or the quinoa and mushroom burger and wash down with beers from small, local cask brewers. Until 30 August 2016, it’s also home to the Craft Cider Fest with Docs Hard Apple, Jakes Kentish Cider and Hawkes Urban Orchard on draught – and that’s not to mention bottled ciders like Somerset Orchard Pig and stylish Stassen.
83 St Pauls Road, Highbury N1 2LY; thealwynecastleislington.co.uk
6 Texas Joe’s Slow Smoked Meats, Bermondsey
Straight from Texas, the new meat shop in Bermondsey is serving up straight southern charm. The menu boasts that food isn’t Texas ‘flavoured’ or Texas ‘style’; it’s the real deal. There are no bells and whistles to Joe’s thick slabs of meat; taste the true slow-smoked flavour with just salt and pepper. Signature dishes include USDA beef brisket, beef prime rib and pork shoulder, as well as mutton shoulder and ribs. At lunchtime try the fresh tacos and thick-cut sandwiches with a side dish of bone marrow with chilli salt, oxtail chilli, or brisket nachos. For an after-dinner drink, head to the honky-tonk bar for jukebox tunes and a glass of whisky, tequila, or award-winning Balcone bourbon.
8-9 Snowsfields, Bermondsey SE1 3SU; texas-joes.com