Select: sizzling hot barbecue joints
Barbecued food is so hot right now - there's even a Big Grill Festival in Dublin this weekend - so we've found some good places to get your low'n'slow fix
The Big Grill Festival will set Dublin’s Herbert Park alight this weekend, running from Thursday afternoon until late Sunday night. The festival of all things barbecue will include lots of demos and talks from pitmasters such Tyson Ho of Brooklyn’s Arrogant Swine, Argentina’s first certified pitmaster Andre Lima de Luca, and Irishman John Religan (formerly of Jamie Oliver’s flagship restaurant Barbecoa). There will be lots of low and slow barbecue to eat on site, plus a hot wings eating challenge and the chance to enter a Big Grill Pitmaster competition, the winner of which will represent Ireland at the Jack Daniels World Championships in Tennessee later this year. See biggrillfestival.com
If you can’t make it to Herbert Park, there are a growing number of barbecue joints around the country happy to attend to your every char-grilled need. In Dublin, a number of barbecue places have cropped up in the city centre over the past couple of years. Bison Bar (11 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2) was one of the first. It serves a menu of Texas-style barbecued meats and sides every day from 12pm to 9pm. It’s particularly proud - and rightly so – of its 14-hour slow-roast Irish beef brisket, which it serves in thick, juicy slices with two sauces and two sides (such as slaw, old-school potato salad or some really good onion rings) for €13.95.
Just up the road on George’s Street, Pitt Bros BBQ Project (Wicklow House, George’s Street, Dublin 2) offers a similar menu from their smoker pit, although their food has a nod to the Carolinas instead of Texas. You can get bun meals here, with a slightly sweet bun holding pulled pork (€9.95), brisket (€9.95), or a pittmaster’s combo (€12.95) with one side – such as the hush puppies they make here, real Southern comfort food of deep-fried balls of cornmeal batter (yes, they’re as tasty and fattening as they sound).
In Smithfield, My Meat Wagon (Smithfield Market Square, Smithfield, Dublin 7) is a rough and ready looking joint that focuses on Texas-style barbecue. The Ole Hickory smoker turns out chicken, pork or beef cooked low and slow, served with two sides in a box (€11.95), bap (€12.50) or on a board (€15.95). There are some good baby back smoked ribs with a Jameson basting sauce with a choice of slaw, fries, proper mash, baked beans or corn on the cob. There’s a good selection of craft beers too.
For a more grown-up feel, Asador (Victoria House, 1 Haddington Road, Dublin 4) has a 1.2-tonne asador barbecue (popular in Spain, Portugal and Argentina) turning out a large selection of meats, shellfish, fish and game that have been cooked over four kinds of wood. The pre-concert menu (from 5.30pm) is €21.95 for two courses, €24.95 for three, and includes a hickory smoked and cured mackerel starter with relish, pickled lemons and salad. For mains, there’s the daily fish special, a pork belly or 8oz rib eye (€7 supplement) cooked over the asador with sauces including chimichurri, smoked Bearnaise or Mesquite BBQ. Or go the whole hog (or cow) and get the 13oz dry-aged rib-eye on the bone from Michael Byrne Craft butchers, served with garnish and sides (€32).
Further south in Cork, The White Rabbit Bar and BBQ (56, MacCurtain Street) has a retro-feel with corrugated iron, old-fashioned gas lamps and wrought-iron stools. The bar is covered in pages from old comic books. It serves authentic barbecue from midday to 9pm daily. Meats include brisket, pork belly, pork shoulder, chicken thighs, bacon and rack of ribs rubbed in spices for 24 hours. Here, the sides include rice and red-bean salad and the usuals of corn, BBQ beans, slaw and green beans. The BBQ plate has a pound of meat and two sides for €10, while the BBQ sandwich for €6.95 has 1/2lb of meat on a fresh bun with slaw, BBQ mayo and pickles. They’ve lots of bourbon on offer here (such as Woodford Reserve, Maker’s Mark, or, if you’re feeling flush, Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash, €14) and craft beers (including local Munster Brewing Company’s Fir Bolg or 9 White Deer Brew Company’s Stag Ban). They also do The Pickleback here – a shot of Jameson with a shot of house pickle juice.
In Belfast, Strip Joint (38 Hill Street, Belfast) is a barbecue venture from the folks behind Made in Belfast – a group that knows a thing or two about themed eateries. They’ve gone all out here, with some seriously questionable strip joint décor and puns, but overlook that and you can try their 50-day bone aged grilled strip steak (£20) or a 36oz (yes, you read that correctly) wing rib steak (€40). Sides include baked potato with chive crème fraiche and beef dripping, or mac and cheese. All sides are only £1 – just as well as you may be leaving them behind after all that meat.
Also in Belfast, Bar + Grill at James Street South (21 James Street South, Belfast BT2 7GA) has a Josper charcoal grill – a hybrid indoor barbecue that reaches extremely high temperatures – that it uses to cook Hannan’s Himalayan salt-aged beef rib-eye and sirloin (both £25 for 300g), and whole seabass (£18) with sides such as truffle fries with parmesan (£4.50) and champ (£3).
Proving low and slow isn’t the only way to get the job done, there’s another Josper grill doing the work at The Smokehouse in Killarney (8 High Street, Killarney, Co Kerry). The intense heat is used to cook up racks of local Kerry mountain lamb served with a baked potato, mint jelly and rocket (€26) and a prime rib T-bone sold by weight (€5 per 100g) and served with baked potato and bone marrow. Sides include duck fat roast potatoes and corn on the cob (both €3).
Finally, in Galway, Creole (49 Lower Dominick Street), as you’d guess it, has a spicier Louisiana take on barbecue, with a Creole BBQ board (€19.95) with baby back ribs, pulled pork crostini, porkbelly, a beef skewer served with chargrilled corn on the cob and slaw, or a land and sea board (€21.95) with spiced barbecue chicken, barbecued beef rib, Cajun barbecued prawns, served with chargrilled corn on the cob and homemade slaw. It has a bright covered outdoor seating area with sunny-hued wooden benches, so you can almost, almost, believe you’re at a US barbecue.