Southern comfort

By | Food & Drink
BBQ is the south's great culinary contribution, and now it's coming to London. Credit @ BBQ.ES

Sometimes, the best things in life are simple. The city of London is still feeling the effects of the molecular gastronomy trend; for every Heston there are three more young hopefuls with heads full of innovation. There’s a reason why some boundaries exist: a particularly interesting take on prawn cocktail – Marie Rose ice cream and prawn jelly – springs to mind. There’s also a reason why a crusty loaf of white bread, beautifully spread with salty butter, is a joy almost universally enjoyed. On occasion, it’s nice to take a step back from the avant garde and enjoy the most established treats of the culinary world.

Des McDonald’s The Fish and Chip Shop did just that in 2013. Taking the humble dish back to its roots, it focuses on good food done well, and was an excellent example of why this popular food mantra remains ever relevant. He’s back again, this time with the Q Grill BBQ, a restaurant inspired by American grills and one that hopes to bring the delights of BBQ to the center of England.

This is the kind of BBQ that will forever free you from memories of damp British summers and rows of identical, store bought rolls, lined up on paper plates with the sort of uniformity that would give the Stepford Wives a run for their money. This is real BBQ; this is Southern America’s bread and butter. The South’s love of BBQ is often similar to a religious experience and it’s easy to see why, as there are similarities and variations of many central themes between the two. Both unite families and communities to gather in groups and appreciate the wonders before them. Members of each group choose what really matters to their own tastes. There are great men and women who preach the sacred values and tenets of their faith. And, of course, everyone believes that his or her own recipe is the one true way.

That passion and dedication is what Mr. McDonald will help infuse the simplicity of BBQ’s concept and draw in crowds from all across the capital. The dishes certainly sound inviting, and capture that essential spirit of the South. Gloriously sticky ribs accentuate the pork’s innate richness with notes of honey and bourbon. Coleslaw piled high in ceramic dishes provides a creamy, refreshing counterpart to the density of the meat and to the featheriness of the buns. Pecan wood roasted chicken is a sure-fire hit from any fan of the grill and the BBQ devotees in the capital are counting down the days until they can get their hands on such a delicious combination.

They’ll be happy to know that smoked foods are also in abundance. Smoke is a key flavor in BBQ, with the type of wood chips used for the fire a frequent topic of debate. Smoked sausages and pulled pork add a tantalizingly rich and tender option to the wedges of grilled meat, and a smoked chilli sauce is sure to be a big hit, adding a touch of tang to bring out the very best in beef and pork.

There’s even a selection of raw foods, including: queen scallop ceviche, salmon caviar and finger lime, blackened tiger shrimp and citrus sea bass served with spiced crispy taco. “Cooked” using chemical reactions from naturally occurring acids, these seafood dishes combine the current trend of raw food with the marinade loving culture of the South to provide a refreshing alternative to smoky scent of the BBQ.

Washing it all down in style is the selection of fine drinks available from the bar. It goes without saying that there is an excellent selection of bourbons and whiskies available, however, the cocktail bar is also surprising well stocked. A particular highlight is the T.I.K.I., which is a mixture of tropical fruit, rich Kraken rum and Falernum, a syrup made of almond, ginger, cloves and vanilla. A curious mix of everyday flavors, blended to perfection, it’s the perfect symbol of this daring restaurant that is hoping to impress customers with taste above all else.

What do you think BBQ can do to make a big impact on London’s culinary scene?

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