Those of you that read this blog will know I love food and particularly Southern American food. So when I heard that Red’s True Barbecue was setting up residence in Manchester, I began salivating just at the thought.
Now, I make no odds of saying my favourite southern fair in Manchester is certainly what is served up at Southern Eleven, Spinningfields. So anywhere offering pulled pork, juicy ribs and bone-sticking mac & cheese, has a tough act to follow in my books. But don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of (un-healthy) competition and the more the merrier, as I’ll happily eat good American food regularly at more than one establishment, no problemo!
I wanted to let the initial hoohah surrounding Red’s die-down a bit. I rarely queue for anywhere, particularly for what is essentially diner grub, so that’s why I’ve only just made my way over, nearly a month into its opening. I think it’s always a good time to try somewhere new, as they should be well into their stride and any teething problems should have been sorted in the initial few weeks.
So off we popped for Sunday lunch with friends and arrived dead on 12noon for opening! Keen? Moi?
The restaurant sits on an impressive corner plot on Alberts Square and Lloyd Street and is vast in size, with different areas, mezzanines and cubby-holes. The decor is busy but cool with the obligatory neon lighting, wrought-iron finishes and diner-esque touches. We jumped straight into a comfy booth over-looking the restaurant and more importantly, the charcoal pit!
There was an impressive drinks menu – the girls opted for cocktails and the boys lager. I had a strawberry daiquri and a Red’s Whiskey Sour, both of which were particularly good and suitably alcoholic!
Then onto perusing the menu, which was full of burgers, ribs, slaw, wings and all those good things! To start with, we all chose a different Little Plate so we could have them in the middle of the table and share.
We opted for the: hush puppies, rib tips, housemade beef jerky and jalapeno poppers. All were scrummy but the surprise for me where the hush puppies! Like little clouds of sweetcorn dough with a jalapeno kick! The sticky bbq sauce that came with the rib tips was pretty special too!
Then it was onto mains! I can never decide what I want as always want a bit of everything, so the combo platters were a good place to start! I opted for Combo 4 – Texas Beef Brisket & Pulled Pork with mac & cheese and sweet potato fries on the side.
The fries were delicious, with just the right amount of crunch. The meat was succulent and packed full of flavour with a nice touch of pork crackling on the top. The brisket was probably my favourite of the two, as the pulled pork was a little vinegary for me. It was also a tad annoying that both meats were piled into one bowl with the coleslaw on top. I like my foods to be separate, so I can combine them how I’d like!
A massive disappointment for me was the Mac & Cheese! A staple in any good southern cooking, I was expecting big things from this at Red’s, particularly as it’s dubbed a ‘divine side’. It promised to be slathered in cheesy sauce and have a crunchy topping of bread crumbs and onion…none of this was evident! The pasta was dry and a bit chewy so I used hubby’s blue cheese dressing from his chicken wings to make the sauce gooey like it should be. What a shame.
The place quickly got packed and within an hour of us being there, was totally full. This didn’t hinder the service one bit though, which was attentive without being pushy. Our drinks came quickly (and considering we were ordering different cocktails, is the sign of a good bar staff) and the food was served efficiently.
We couldn’t quite squeeze in room for desserts, but I definitely had my eye on the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake…mmmm next time!
All in all, it was a great lunch, packed full of flavour and not unreasonably priced. The let downs for me were definitely the mac & cheese (you shouldn’t be getting that wrong!) and the fact the saucy meats were served up in one bowl so all the juices/flavours mixed. But if this is the most I can think of, they’re clearly not doing too badly!
We left satisfied and comfortably full, but not pencilling-in our next visit. We’ll definitely be back and it’s a good spot for an informal dinner and drinks with friends, but I don’t think I’ll be day-dreaming about it for the days to come.
Have you been? Let me know what you thought!