Real American BBQ in Birmingham? Absolutely, plus a bonus for Blues fans…
As you make your way in to The Smoke Haus, greeted by photos of Americans both great and not so great. Dave Grohl titled “God”, Donald Trump titled “Bad”. You kind of forget that you’ve just walked in from Brindley Place in Birmingham. Surrounded by the stylish and swanky All Bar One, Bank and Nuvo, you are genuinely transported thousands of miles over the Atlantic Ocean.
Having never been to the US before, the title might seem a bit misleading. I can’t for certain say how the food The Smoke Haus presents compares to genuine BBQ in the Deep South. However I can say that it knocks socks off other restaurants that have claimed to be American BBQ. Plus I’ve watched plenty of episodes of Man vs Food…
After sitting down and taking a look at the menu, I opted for a pint of Goose Island IPA. There’s a decent selection of ale, lager, cider and spirits. When looking at the list of beers, I didn’t realise until afterwards that The Smoke Haus have their own Smoke Haus IPA. As this beer is listed on a whole page, but isn’t on the list, I completely overlooked it thinking it was just a nice beer graphic image. It’s definitely one I will try next time.
We started with a portion of chicken wings to share. If you’re a Birmingham City Season Ticket Holder or Blues Loyalty member, these are on the house! We asked for a selection of the different spices, Plain, Spicy and Sticky BBQ.
As a Nando’s fan, I’m a big fan of spicy chicken, and for that reason the ‘Spicy’ wings were a bit of a let down, in that I didn’t think they were especially spicy, more a sweet chilli coating than anything with a kick. However, that is as far as my disappointment went.
The skin on all of the wings has a delightful crunch, followed by a lovely, juicy, tender mouthful of chicken. My wife, who is a fuss eater anyway, favoured the plain wings whilst I favoured the Sticky BBQ. I feel like I should note, the ‘Spicy’ wings, were also very sticky. Literally, the only thing that I would change, is the name of the spicy wings, to represent something sweeter. Although if this is how the Americans do it, then I am wrong!
For our main courses I went for a BBQ Pit Plate Duo of Baby Back Ribs and Pulled Pork, whilst the wife opted for the Brisket Deli Sandwich. After demolishing the chicken wings between the two of us, as soon as the main courses arrived, we realised we were in trouble…
The Brisket Deli Sandwich (normally served with slaw, cheese and more… see comment about Fussy wife), was stacked double in height, and filled with delicious, slow cooked beef brisket. I genuinely don’t think the photo of the Brisket Deli Sandwich does it justice. Partly due to me not turning the sandwich round for the photo, but also because my wife essentially strips them naked of any fillings other than the brisket! The brisket was lovely though, and the charred meat has a lovely sweetness to it.
For my main, realising there was no way I was going to finish, I had to play it strategically. The pulled pork would not travel home well, the ribs however, would. So I tucked in to the pulled pork, thoroughly enjoying it. The pork was amazingly tender, and was coated in a lovely, sweet sauce.
I couldn’t not try the baby back ribs whilst they were still fresh though, so I went ahead, in true BBQ style and picked them up to have a munch. I have to be honest, I was blown away. If you’ve ever had the BBQ Ribs at a Harvester, these are not even in the same ball park. Harvester’s ribs are Oxford United and the ribs at The Smoke Haus are Chelsea… As soon as you bite in to the meat, it falls away from the rib itself. Juicy, tender with a sweet, sticky coating, they are the best ribs I’ve ever tasted.
The sides also deserve a mention. My plate came with a side cup of standard mayo style coleslaw. However I assume the slaw the menu refers to is what was on the plate. This was a much lighter style slaw and was mixed with mint, that added a lovely zing every mouthful. Whilst we both failed to eat many of the chips, it was almost a shame. They weren’t an important part of the meal, but the few that we ate were well cooked, not greasy and had a lovely flavour to them, along with a very unique shape.
We had intended to try a desert to finish the meal. However, we had to call it quits after eating about half of our meals as we just genuinely couldn’t stomach anymore. We had the remaining half of the brisket and ribs put in a takeaway bag with a lovely little personal touch hand written on it.
Delightful food, friendly and welcoming staff, a decor that genuinely transports you and you definitely won’t leave hungry…
If nothing else, pop in an have a beer at the bar and check out the amazing beer barrel toilets. Oh, and the general idea seems to be, don’t forget to take a pen!