Big Easy Barbecue and Crabshack has carved out a niche for itself in the capital. It’s Kings Road branch has been feeding starving Sloanes since 2011 and judging by the queue snaking out of the door last Saturday night, it’s new Covent Garden sibling is doing a roaring trade too.
Step inside and it’s not difficult to see why the Big Easy’s Covent Garden branch has developed such a cult following: this is restaurant and bar with a big personality serving dude food (the latest dining trend, don’t cha know?)
Housed in a former firehouse station, the interior – designed by Macaulay Sinclair of The Hawksmoor – is suitably industrious mixing copper conduits, brickwork, and steel and concrete girders to striking effect. Meanwhile exposed, brick walls are adorned with posters and photographs that scream Americana. On the ground floor you’ll find a vast bar whose menu boasts a long list of tipples to choose from but the emphasis is on American whiskeys and slushies (aka frozen Margaritas, Manhattans and Old Fashioneds) that you’ll want to lap up like a kitten. (They really are that good).
Downstairs there’s a nine metre open kitchen with its Instagram friendly ‘wall of fire’ – think two huge Argentinean-style parilla charcoal grills, a massive rotisserie spit big enough to roast whole hogs and a huge wood burning oven. There’s also a dedicated pit area featuring two, 1.5 tonne wood burning smokers that have been brought in from Texas. All eyes though will be drawn to the excellent band belting out the blues on the small stage.
Once you’ve finished admiring the spectacle, there’s food to be eaten and (more) slushies to sink. For a bit of stomach lining, start with the more’ish Hush puppies (divine deep fried balls of cornmeal batter, served with smoked chilli jam) while you peruse the meat mad – steaks, ribs, pit barbecue – menu. The Big Easy Smokehouse Burger was excellent – a firm, bouncy bun stuffed with a juicy patty, smoked cheddar and fried onions and served with generous portion of fries and ‘slaw.
Yet the real show stoppers are the Bar B Q platters: we enjoyed the Taste-O-Rama! (Pit-Smoked Bar.B.Q Chicken, Dry-Rubbed St Louis Pork Ribs, Carolina Pulled Pork) – bonafide cowboy food. (Note: this is not a place to visit if vegetarians are in tow).
Elsewhere sides are, ahem, no side attraction: the Louisiana style creamed spinach will make you close your eyes with happiness. Dessert defeated us but Manford – our friendly waiter who, like the rest of the lovely staff, appeared to have stepped straight out of an Abercrombie & Fitch advert – advised that the Home-made ‘Soft serve’ boozy ice cream ( expect single barrel aged Tennessee Bourbon double measure in every serving) is worth sacrificing your cholesterol count for.
All told this is a great place to go for a lively night out, if not a quiet intimate chat. Only the hard hearted will fail to have fun here this festive season.