By Maggie Majstrova
You may or may not have heard Crossrail place is having some work done, and while my new favourite Toddy Shop and some of the other restaurants are a little hidden away, Big Easy has got prime place, with its illuminated windows advertising steak, burgers and lobsters directly facing the nearest DLR station.
For those of you who, like me, have never visited a Big Easy restaurant before, think true American style BBQ (or as they spell it – and which sent my ‘slight’ obsession with correct spelling into a frenzy – Bar.B.Q) and Crabshack from the décor down to the menu wording and even the produce used in their dishes (lobsters are flown in daily from Nova Scotia).
At first glance of the menu, I already knew I would be coming back. Big Easy do a ‘deal’ night every weekday from all you can eat hog roast to lobster – all at a very reasonable prices (all you can eat hog roast on a Wednesday night, with a glass of prosecco or a pint of Big Easy Brew and sides for a mind-blowing £20!).
While the food order was going to take some time (my dad has taken to sending me menus of places we’re going to visit a few days in advance, because it takes me that long to decide what to order – look, it’s not a decision that should be taken lightly, okay?), the drinks order was surprisingly easy.
We got as far as ‘Big Easy Brew’ (line one on the drinks menu) and were sold (at around £5 a pint). While I am by no means a connoisseur of beer (don’t expect a dissection of the hoppy notes etc), I know a good beer when I drink one – and that, was a good beer.
Being in a particularly indecisive mood (even for me) there was no other option, the Grand Appetizer Platter for 2 (£22.50) and before it arrived, we were dispensed the classic plastic bib and wet towels – now I’m starting to think, this is going to be serious stuff!
The platter is served slightly elevated above the table, at nearly ‘face level’ so all you have to do is rake the food into your mouth. Fine with me! For two people, there is more than enough there – I think this is really a four-person starter. There are calamari (absolutely perfect), voodoo chicken wings (yes, they’re spicy, very), BBQ chicken wings (succulent and saucy), hush puppies (deep-fried cornbread, what’s not to like?) and jumbo (and I mean JUMBO) popcorn shrimp. Plus, a selection of sauces.
I have one issue with the platter, and it’s those sauces. Although each sauce (there were about 6) is great on its own, none seem to fit with any of the actual food, with the exception of the BBQ sauce (obviously). To be honest, I’d have just left them out.
Having decided not to risk the potential embarrassment that could come with trying to prise open a whole lobster in the middle of a busy restaurant, when you have no idea what you’re doing despite the step by step instructions on the back of your wet towel wrapper, we both opted for something of the Bar.B.Q. (!!) menu. My fiancé for the ‘Taste O Rama’ – chicken, ribs, pulled pork and brisket (£30) and I for the Texan Sliced Slow Cooked Brisket (£18). Each comes with slaw and BBQ beans and we went for ‘Real Potato Fries’ (£3) – fat chips to you and me – and Mac n Cheese (£6) on the side.
It’s more than worth the money. The brisket is melt in the mouth, fall off your fork. The pulled pork is succulent, the chicken is mouth-watering, the ribs just fall apart. The slaw is good (surprising, how often you get bad slaw in BBQ’s), the Mac n Cheese faultless and the chips just bring it all together. I have to say I wasn’t a big fan of the BBQ beans, but that’s just a personal taste, my dinner companion polished them off.
So, I think you can tell, I’m a fan. And what sealed the deal is that having reached the upper echelons of a meat coma and packed up our leftovers, we had easily enough food for the both of us the next day. Win!
By Esin Huseyin
I know, I know – I’m super late to the party but once you see how much I ordered you’ll know I definitely made up for it.
I didn’t head to the original Chelsea branch, instead I opted for tourist hotbed Covent Garden.
It’s your typical American meat shack; large portions, meat everywhere, and whiskey.
I went for a late lunch at about 16:00 on a Wednesday, no queue, but we were told we had to vacate the table by 17:30 – which was fine by us.
Exposed brick, industrial metal and fixtures, with a little Scandinavian chic through neon lobsters and exposed filament light bulbs. The music wasn’t too over bearing, it worked well with the open plan to create a relaxed vibe.
I’ve heard great things about the bar, but seeing as I don’t drink I missed out on this opportunity. There have been a few mixed reviews on the web about this place, and I thought it was about time to take my tastebuds on a little trip.
The menu is pretty large; BBQ, seafood, steaks and burgers. It’s a lot to take in! But, we opted for:
– Original Voodoo Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese dipping sauce
– Bar.B.Q Blow Out ( Pit-smoked Bar.B.Q Chicken, Dry-Rubbed St Louis Pork Ribs, Carolina Pulled Park with house made Cornbread and Fries)
Now I have to be honest and say that yes the portions are pretty ridiculous, but the prices are a little over the top – even more so because…I wasn’t a fan. Let me tell you why.
The ribs, although the the amount of meat on the bone was amazing, I found them to be a little bit meh. Yes, I could taste the smokiness, and they weren’t overly dry – I just felt meh.
The pulled pork was seriously dry and needed more seasoning, when lavished with their BBQ sauce it tasted great, but the meat alone didn’t drive me crazy.
The chicken, well you can’t go too wrong with chicken, was juicy and seasoned well. By that point however I kind of had enough. I’m not going to lie, but the favourite part for me was the corn bread. YES YES YES. All about the carbs babaaay.
The wings however were beautiful, served hot dripping in spicy sexy sauce (yes that’s a thing) and with a dollop of blue cheese. The portion size was enough to share between 2, although you do only have about 2 wings. So don’t expect gargantuan portions, just enough to get your little bellies prepped for the feast that will definitely ensue.
Probably nice to go to once, but it will not be a regular occurrence for me – crying sad face emoji.