Gourmet junk food – what an oxymoron
It’s true, posh nosh of the takeaway variety really is 2014’s success story. It’s the manna of the hipsters, and it looks like it’s here to stay.
Not living in London, over the past few years I have salivated over reviews of restaurant openings all over the capital with one thing in common – junk food. Meat Liquor. Bubble Dogs (Champagne! Hot dogs!). Wishbone in Brixton Village. Luckily, Leeds is now well and truly in on the act too. Red’s True BBQ on Call Lane has gone from strength to strength, and just like most of the American deep south, it aims to spread the good news. Of barbequed meat. With a new restaurant set to open in Manchester in February, it doesn’t look like the hype will die down any time soon. Add to this likes of The Pit, Roxy Ball Room, Primo’s Hot Dogs, and Chicago Rib Shack, and you get the stateside picture.
Red’s really is good stuff. If you ever get a table, that is. (They don’t do bookings: spontaneous, casual dining is the name of the hipster game). A massive barbeque sits in the middle of the restaurant, filling the air with the tasty, smoky smells of pulled pork, pulled beef brisket, Texas link sausages, grilled chicken and lots and lots of sticky wings and sticky ribs. All served with the obligatory 2014 side of slaw and twice-cooked chips. Your food comes served on an industrial tray, with plenty of space to indulge in the Russian-roulette of sauces garnishing your table: Dirty BBQ, mustard, onion relish, and hot chilli sauce to name but a few. Milkshakes are served in old-fashioned glass milk bottles with a straw – the marshmallow heaven is a meal in itself. Bourbon and sweet iced tea help to wash down the grease.
It’s all fairly reasonably priced: £8.95 for a burger and chips, £4.50 for a shake. You could, however, go all out and order the Pit burger (£15.95), serving up a great big beef burger with sliced brisket, pulled pork, melted Jack, dill pickle, salad, dirty sauce, American mustard. All stacked on a glazed artisan burger bun. With an onion ring on top. With fries. Those poor, poor arteries.
Guardian journalist Marina O’Loughlin, though not a great fan of the trend, sums up the surprising success of not-quite-so-posh nosh: “It’s not hard to figure out the popularity: ramming a grease-oozing, cheese-dripping, squidgy meatgasm into your face is the gastronomical equivalent of a one-night stand – not at all good for you and makes you feel grubby afterwards but, boy, it works at the time.”
Amen to that.