Red’s True Barbecue, 22 Lloyd Street, Albert Square, Manchester, M2 5WA – Visit Now
There’s a decent selection of craft beers and the usual ridiculous cocktails. We took a punt on decentish Dixie lager, brewed in New Orleans, and noticed that a lot of people were slurping milkshakes out of retro milk bottles. A lot of people are also reportedly ordering the donut burger – a double cheeseburger between two glazed donuts – but don’t look at me. I did, however, order a cocktail involving ginger beer, rum and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, so I’m in no position to judge.
The little plates are a roster of indulgent Southern fried Scooby snacks like crackling and jalapeno poppers. We loved the hush puppies, cornmeal fritters speckled with sweetcorn and spicy peppers, even dunked in that plastic cheese sauce you get with cinema nachos. As for the rest of the food – if you can smoke it or grill it, you can probably eat it here. Big appetites should go for the excellent value combo meals, which let you sample a couple of meats in caveman-size portions plonked right on a plastic tray. This is really not the place to wear those tight jeans, or indeed, anything you don’t want to emerge smelling like it spent six hours in the smoker with a rack of ribs.
And it was ribs that I came for. I liked the sticky, chewy baby back ribs better than the St Louis style, which had decent smoke but a curiously uniform, firm flesh, and they were sadly out of the beef long, which I’d particularly wanted to try. A half barbecued chicken was good on flavour but the flesh was mushy and overcooked. Texas smoked sausage tasted good and meaty, with excellent heat and an interior texture as smooth as Justin Bieber’s cheek. Slathered on everything was their house barbecue sauce, which was so sweet it risked overpowering the meat, all sourced from Sykes House Farm in Wetherby
The fact that we ordered two desserts should be recognised as a victory for gluttons everywhere. Banana custard, which involved raw, under-ripe bananas drowned in what tasted like marshmallow cream, wasn’t much of a temptation, but Mississippi mud brownie, with fudge sauce and vanilla ice cream, was. A return visit is definitely on the cards, though I’ll probably sit in the big kids’ dining room out back, where things seem a little calmer.
This is an independent review, but our writer didn’t pay for her meal. For more info on our editorial policy, read our About page.