Review: Blue’s Smokehouse restaurant, Slough.
Slough. Home of David Brent, a bus station which looks like a slug, and apparently the unhappiest people in the country… as some colleagues of mine brought to our attention in BBC doc series ‘Making Slough Happy’ over 10 years ago now.
One new restaurant is claiming to cheer people up though, with their tagline of ‘Arrive Hungry, Leave Happy’. Bold, considering where it’s based! But I’m a big meat eater, so didn’t need much convincing to try out Blue’s Smokehouse, whose award-winning executive chef – or ‘Pit Boss’ (yes!) – Jackie Weight is the only non-American ever to win the overall Grand Champion title at the Jack Daniels BBQ competition in Tennessee. Basically, she’s amazing at ‘low and slow’ cooking, and beat the Americans at their own game on their (surf &) turf. Mwah-ha-ha.
Blue’s Smokehouse Slough was three months old this weekend, as the lovely and chatty manager Philippe was keen to tell us. With our two little monkeys playing up we also had some good banter about parenthood, the complexity of bringing up girls and what other uses babywipes have in the home (paint-stripping alarmingly!).
Meat-smoking appears to be the new food version of the craft beer movement. Lots of people jumping on the bandwagon with sometimes (but not always) delicious results – and mainly, something you can get really geeky about. Different types of smoker, woodchip, flavourings and rubs… exact ratios, temperatures, and blah blah zzzzzz. I like the idea of it though and it involves copious amounts of meat so my knife and fork were at the ready.
(The husband almost maxed the credit card once to buy this ridiculous Big Green Egg thing before I suggested perhaps there were other slightly more important things we needed **read: massively put my foot down**).
You know a barbecue place means business when there is a large kitchen roll on each table – and I mean just supermarket-own, functional non-pretty kitchen roll.
Let the mess commence.
To start with, we snacked on some punchy Jalapeno Torpedos – fat, juicy jalapenos stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon and smoked. Hot and a really tasty combo – probably not that toddler friendly unless you’ve got a spice-fiend. The Nachitos were an unusual change to average, sloppy nachos – large and crispy triangles a bit like spring rolls, delicious on their own but served with soured cream and salsa. Very moreish. And possibly the only things I ate that weren’t smoked (I don’t think).
We all dipped into some of the most popular mains – Pulled Pork, Brisket and Burnt Ends, BBQ chicken and a Smokey Hot Pot full of chicken, pork, corn and beans. All arriving on cool, greaseproof print or in campfire mess tins. The clear winner was the pork, amazing with the homemade mustard sauce (one of four delicious looking bottles available to take home @ £2.95 each) and skin-on chips. Brisket could have been rarer for our taste, but was tender and smokey nonetheless. Burnt Ends are the chunky pieces from the fattier part of the Brisket considered a delicacy if done right, with some yummy char on one side. Having had to take a 3 year old for an annoyingly timed number two half way through my meal, Mr MM tried to steal mine, they were that good (and he is that much of a gannet).
If you’re a big carnivore it’s heaven, with racks of ribs, pork belly, link sausage and chicken wings all on the menu. Unbelievably, we had no room for dessert, but maybe next time – it’s one of those places where your eyes are definitely bigger than your belly!
Very spacious and family friendly, there is plenty of room for buggies and comfy booths you can chance your toddler on if you don’t need the high chair. There was a colouring book and crayons on the table for M before you could say ‘baby back ribs’ and the kids’ ‘Lil Critters’ menu is bargainous at £4.95 for a good sized main, side and drink. Decent downstairs baby change and toilet too.
The servers were brilliant with the small people. Lots of smiles and interaction and we felt really welcome as a family.
The American Wild West meets trendy industrial décor is seriously appealing and dare I say it, feels a bit out of place on an ugly one way system at the far end of Slough High Street. No wonder they didn’t opt for swinging saloon doors. Cute detail in the squeaky old turnstile at the front, and the horse-drawn carriage the kids can climb into and play dress-up.
It’s a shame the serving team didn’t tell us about more how the food was cooked – I would have loved to know what smoking really is, how they do it, and what sets this place apart from somewhere like TGI Fridays. It’s obvious in the food quality in my opinion, but the trendy and new smokehouse thang is their real selling point and they could have definitely sold themselves better. I think I overheard that they use real American smokers they’d imported especially for example. Why not show that off? Even take us to have a look. I’m not sure what a smoker looks like if they’re not lurking out the front of a pub.
Main courses are reasonably priced from less than £10 – generously including two sides – up to £18.50 for the full rack of ribs. Drinks-wise, Mr MM was impressed by the interesting selection of imported American bottled beers, none of which he’d heard of – and that’s saying something for an avid craft beer fan. No Coors Lite here.
Smokehouse geekery lacking, I certainly left full. And very happy.
Blue’s Smokehouse Slough
2/3 Prudential Building
01753 550 125
Disclaimer: I wrote this review independently but with permission from the manager. All photos and opinions (as well as onions, as I just wrote) are my own.