Its February the 13th, the day before Valentines. The pressures on to woo the flame and make sure the Cooktwit can still show a girl a good time. So with a three hour ‘prog rock’ gig booked at the Apollo (Dream Theater for those in the know!) the question was where do I take the love of ones life for the pre gig tucker?
As luck would have it some Yorkshire folk ‘fromt tuther side et penines’ have turned up and gutted the old ‘Live Bait’ gaff. I happen to work next door and so it was the work of a moment to convince some poor waif at the door that I was worth keeping a small table in readiness for a cheeky couplet at six.
I won’t lie, the flame is more of a fine dining sort of lass. ‘Reds True Barbecue’ is not fine dining. In fact as the name suggests, the scran turns up in tins on plastic trays, (though not burnt on the outside and raw in the middle). This is a true American style diner, with burgers, steak, pork, ribs and appropriate sides the order of the day. It’s mighty fine stuff though.
In fairness the transition from a fish restaurant to meat heaven has been accomplished with rich, humorous, funky aplomb. The decor is a combination of industrial scrap, neon flash, park benching and (I kid you not) plastic school chairs. Combined with an x rated megawatt music system it generates an atmosphere unlike any I’ve ever experienced. Still as a fifty something I can’t deny getting mildly squiffy when Bad Company’s ‘Shooting Star’ crashed through the speakers mid way through a ‘jelapeno popper’.
With regards to the subsistence, things got off to a great start with a pint of ‘Shipyard Californian Pale Ale’. A welcome surprise. Our table was one of the last left and was holed up in a corner on one of the upper decks in a dark corner, as a consequence my lack of reading glasses made digesting the mad cap menu somewhat tiresome. I nipped outside on the street where a couple of large floodlit versions are displayed. Moments later I had chosen.
We both went for ‘BBQ plates’, I the North Carolina pulled pork, the flame had half a chicken. Each came with either two ‘humble’ sides or one ‘divine’ side. I had a divine tin of sweet potato fries, whilst the loved one across the bench had a rather humble, but pleasant potato salad and a side salad. My pulled pork came with homemade slaw, some pork scratchings and a small ‘tublet’ of apple sauce. Mine wasn’t very hot but it was tasty, and the crunchy texture provided by the folded in scratchings gave it a nice touch. I had the pleasure of stripping the flames chicken carcass (for research purposes) and can concur that the chicken was cooked well and tasted great in its sticky, barbecued coat. Both dishes were enhanced by the introduction of one or all of the sauces that are thoughtfully provided on each table. The hottest one in particular added a welcome zing. I’d step down a couple unless you are a big chilli fan!
I added a desert to the mix. It’s only a small menu, the chocolate peanut butter cheesecake was tempting but I wolfed a ‘Reds banana pudding’ instead. This came in a huge oval tin, layered at the base with sponge, the bananas then swam in vanilla custard, topped with grilled meringue. It was sweet and I loved it. The flame was less impressed and finished with a black coffee in a glass!
It all came to £37 for the two of us. If I’m honest I probably didn’t chose very well but have to say the burgers looked incredible and I’ll definitely be back with a gang to try one. It’s a great place to meet friends and take the kids to. The atmosphere is tremendous, the service from Sian our waitress, was enthusiastic, very friendly and efficient. Hopefully it will do well and continue to make great use of this grand old space. It’s another great reason to head over to the famous Albert Square.
Reds True BBQ
22 Lloyd Street
0161 820 9140