London is a home-from-home for any rib chewing, pulled pork eating, spicy bean munching American. This unhealthily-delicious cuisine is now offered by pubs, street vendors a-plenty, and even the high street sandwich chains. The full 'US of A' experience, complete with buffalo skull, Budweiser, and bourbon, can be found at one of the four Bodean's venues - one of which is a mere fifteen minutes walk from home, luckily for me. Of course, with rising popularity comes a host of competitors keen to jump on the wagon train. Enter Red Dog Saloon.
Not being a fan of a monopoly - even one as delicious as Bodean's - I'm always willing to sample the wares of a newcomer...even if it does mean a tube trip to the opposite side of town. Red Dog Saloon can be found in Hoxton Square, a short throw from Shoreditch, which guarantees a crowd queuing at the door even on a Monday. We'd booked, so no waiting around for us. Until we ordered our food. Starters shouldn't be necessary when so much meat is on offer, but if the waiting time for your main course is creeping over thirty minutes the staff should warn you that an appetiser is a must. It did give us time to get mildly sozzled on a pitcher of 'Beverly Hills Iced Tea', which may have been the inspiration for the post-dinner tequila - something Red Dog has a nice long list of.
But when it comes to the crunch, be it Red Dog, Bodean's, or a.n.other BBQ house, ultimately no amount of decor, skulls, novel booze, or beer is going to make up for poor food. And unfortunately, the tasteless ribs even when smothered further in an equally tasteless sauce were a huge disappointment. BBQ is about punch of flavour. A faint-to-strong burn in the mouth of spice that has been stewing for hours (or days) combined with a sweet tang so common in all American food that you're willing to forgo pudding. There was nothing here, no spice, no sweet, just a sticky sauce that you were happy to wipe, rather than lick, from your fingers.
I'm sure somewhere in London there is an equal to Bodean's, but it's not to be found in Hoxton Square.