BBQ Special | Red’s True BBQ (Shoreditch)

Fri 2nd October 2015

In the not-so-distant past, the idea of burgers and ribs would equate to fast-food to most people. Not any more. In the last few years, fashionable BBQ restaurant chains have opened their doors to hungry diners all over London and beyond, and the number is growing.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Bodean’s Old Street, which I blogged about here. Tonight, 8 of us are having a gathering and we have come to Red’s True BBQ in trendy Shoreditch, which has only been open since July.

Whiffs of wood-burning smokiness mixed with BBQ meatiness from the open-plan kitchen will hit you as soon as you step through the front door, bringing your senses alive. We got a booth downstairs. The place looked absolutely amazing—a bit of a beautiful outdoor scene—dimly lit with a “bird’s nest” hanging over the bar, a tree in the middle of the room and a lot of fairy lights. Compared with Bodean’s, which has a more relaxed charm of a sports-bar-com-diner, Red’s True feels a lot more up-market, very chic, and pleasantly delightful. However, the positives end here.

The beer selection is pretty decent, yet we couldn’t even get a bottle of Corona. What we got was a half-hearted apology and a simple explanation that they only had 12 bottles and a guy came in earlier and bought them all. The reason for only stocking 12 bottles of Corona in the whole restaurant in the first place? “Because as you can see, we stock such a good selection of beers.” Hmmm… Don’t get me wrong, the Founders All Day IPA I had was very good, exactly what a honest American IPA should be. The nose is big—a nice, balanced blend of citrus, peach, pine and florals; the taste is fairly dry with a hoppy bitterness that lingers—a very drinkable beer. But still…

Founders All Day IPA
Founders All Day IPA

The music here is far too loud—even though we were somewhat sheltered being in a booth, we still needed to shout across the large table to talk to our friends. Staff are friendly enough but not very attentive—service here is far too relaxed. We had a bit of a mix-up with one of the orders and it took a very long time for us to get our waiter’s attention so that we could order more drinks (and it was also painfully slow when eventually we wanted to pay our bill—it took 3 separate attempts from various people in our party speaking with him to get that sorted). I honestly hope this was an one-off experience!

Onto the food… to my disappointment, my baby backs ribs were too tough and far too sugary and sickly rather than rich and tangy (how a good BBQ should be, which was perfected achieved by Bodean’s). I also ordered chicken wings (the hot ones, not the mild ones). They were not tangy, shame. The heat was there, but the rubs and mopping sauce for the hot wings were again a tad on the sweet side.

2 BBQ wings, baby backs half rack & side salad
2 BBQ wings, baby backs half rack & side salad

One good thing is that they have quite a collection of table sauces on offer, which are very interesting. What’s the deal with them all? What’s the difference? Let me enlighten you:

  • North Carolina BBQ: very vinegary—sharp and tangy, with a hint of sweetness
  • South Carolina BBQ: mustardy and vinegary
  • Kansas City BBQ: a more traditional American BBQ sauce as you would expect—sweet and smokey
  • Judas Ketchup: a cross between BBQ sauce and ketchup—a ketchup with subtle spices
  • Triple 6 Hot Sauce: hot and fruity, with quite a kick

Red's True BBQ Sauces

To sum up, Red’s True BBQ does not live up to the hype, nor its self proclaimed statement of “Taste and be saved—feast upon glorious meats smoked low and slow, infused with joy”. Yes, the atmosphere and decor here are great. But afterall, it’s more like a trendy bar to grab a drink or two with your mates than a true BBQ smokehouse. If it is mouthwatering tender BBQ meats you are after, you won’t find them here. Instead, visit somewhere old, established and trusted, like Bodean’s or Big Easy.



Cost: ~£25 per person (for meat, side & a beer)

Address: 54-56 Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 3QR

Phone: 020 3021 2302

+ atmosphere and decor


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