We are pretty enthusiastic people here at Average Joe’s and there are lots of reasons we were keen to head down to the opening of Texas Joe’s at Brewdog in Shoreditch. Firstly, we love BBQ food. Secondly, we saw Texas Joe on Dragon’s Den with his jerky and have been craving it since. Thirdly, we love BBQ food.
Texas Joe wooed the dragons into numerous offers, a rare event, and eventually decided to go with Dragon Peter Jones’ offer of £50k. The giant of a dragon subsequently pulled out of that deal, but they’re proceeding with their venture undeterred with investment from Brewdog, bringing us some of the finest South American BBQ food to Underdog – Brewdog in Shoreditch. This is a privately funded, semi pop-up restaurant in the basement of the infamous Scottish brewery – ie. If you keep eating there, it will become permanent.
The first and most noticeable thing about Texas Joe’s BBQ is the smell. From the top of the stairs you get the whiff of smoky BBQ’d meat, and it is a wonder that everyone upstairs isn’t constantly salivating. The smell carries you down, through the disguised door and into a dimly lit basement that feels like you’ve been transported to a darkened eatery in the Deep South. Blues music fills the air and the bar serves all manner of themed cocktails (no shots). Down here, the smell is intoxicating! So if it smells that good, what is the food going to be like?
Casting a cursory glance over the menu, it is exactly as you’d suspect. A range of Texan BBQ meats are on offer, from pork and beef ribs to smoked chicken and link sausages. We had a go at eating everything, although at no point were the ribs actually on offer – mighty odd given that they are probably the signature dish there. The meats we did manage to get at included the smoked chicken, link sausage, brisket, pulled pork and chilli. Of all of these, the brisket came out on top. It was wonderfully smoked and was not overcooked, so that it was full of flavour and had the right bite to make it so good we had to have more. Equally, the smoked chicken breast was near enough the best BBQ’d chicken we’ve had.
Cooking chicken on a BBQ is always tricky, you want it to be well flavoured, slightly charred, but not burnt, and cooked through properly. By cooking this the Texan way, the chicken gets smoked through so that the flavour permeates all the meat and allows for the blackened edges that enhance the flavour when it hits the grill. The succulent mouthfuls of chicken were moist and truly delicious. The link sausages were, unfortunately, not world beaters, and when it comes to smoky sausages, you’d still be better off eating something German. Chilli isn’t Mexican, its more Texan than anything, and its inclusion on the menu is a nod to food history that most people don’t even know. The chilli here is faintly smoked and rich in flavour. Chilli is entirely subjective though, given taste on beans and spices, so you’ll have to try this for yourself. For us, however, the chilli was maybe a bit too light on the spice and too rich.
Brewdog are no slouches either. We aren’t here to talk about all of their beers (oh how we love their beers), but the bar menu they have created to accompany Texas Joe’s in their basement is exemplary. It also helps that they’ve gone fully down the Texan route too. Cocktails are a plenty downstairs and you’d be hard pushed to find something you wouldn’t be dying to try with your food.
Texas Joe is all about doing things the Texan way, not only in style (who’d have guessed?!). He is incredibly passionate about his Texan BBQ, and he says that nobody in the UK is doing it right – sure there are a lot of BBQ style foods on the go here in London, many of which we have eaten at already, but none of them do it his way. We have got the Memphis style, Kansas City style, and Atlanta style in abundance apparently – if you know the difference between all of them, please send your answers on the back of a postcard.