Return of The Smokehouse
March 6, 2014
It was no surprise to see the Smokehouse come back for another run at Braunstone Gate’s O Bar. The feelgood Southern barbecue food seemed to be a big hit – certainly was with me – and there was definitely something added by the catch-it-while-you-can nature of the pop-up.
On Tuesday night I went down with Rob – who hadn’t managed to get along before and was, it must be said, a little sceptical about the whole enterprise. He was, though, definitely won over and was last seen walking back towards Hinckley Rd getting straight on social media to enthuse.
The menu is more or less the same with a few tweaks. Rob had one of the new starters – chicken, potato and sweetcorn hash. It was a big old plate of campfire goodness – with chunks or barbecued corn sliced roughly of the cob all adding to the rustic feel. It was probably over-seasoned, but with flakes of excellent sea-salt so you didn’t really mind – it just made the excellent craft beers even more welcome. I had the scorched mackerel, marinated in a coriander pickle – a more refined dish, with tasted cured flesh and crispy flamed skin.
The “Big Smoke” mains are not subtle – and not meant to be – but you do get hits of intriguing flavours, from coriander to fennel to the divine crunchy pickled cabbage and onions. I had the pulled pork, cooked for 14 hours, which came two ways – pretty much straight out of the marinade and in chilli con carne form. None of it was overly spicy – more a late-arriving, smoky warmth – and it was all tender and gorgeous. Rob had the sliced brisket (just the 12 hours in the smoker for this one), a mountain of which came in a fantastic brioche bun. I’d say the gravy with the beef was maybe overly sweet but the flavour of the beef still came though and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable dish. We had sides of a potato baked in salt crust slathered in a herby garlic butter – simply wonderful – and as a concession to our five-a-day, fennel and jalapeno slaw, which seemed to have less smoke on the fennel than I remember but still a great salad.
The one thing I was looking forward above all to reacquainting myself with was the sticky toffee and maple pudding – and it wasn’t a let down. Excellent sponge surrounded by the most ambrosial lake of salted caramel and bourbon sauce. As the good quality vanilla ice-cream started to melt into that sauce I was reflecting there was no more pleasureable experience available in Leicester that night (please don’t tell me about it if you think there was).
So newbies or old timers, you’ve got another chance. It will be around for a few weeks – maybe longer if the bookings really fly in – so if it sounds like your thing, don’t hang around. I think you’ll enjoy it. More details here.