I was incredibly fortunate to be invited to the latest Leeds restaurant opening in the form of Red’s True BBQ on Saturday. I heard about it on Twitter and managed to wangle myself an invite. Unfortunately I was a bit of Billy No Mates as Mr LTT was off getting drunk at the Leeds Beer Festival and my other friends were busy doing their own things. I didn’t mind though, I don’t get too awkward in my own company!
Right from the moment I arrived, I knew that Red’s was going to be amazing. The hosting throughout the night was exceptionally attentive and the staff well-informed about the menu. I was fortunate enough to talk to James, one of the owners about the new venture and find out a bit more about the restaurant. This isn’t just a couple of chancers trying to wing it (like I’ve heard about some other restaurants in Leeds….scandalous? Moi?) but people who have taken the time to really research what they’re selling. Because the one thing that you can’t buy but can taste in the food is the love that’s gone into it. For instance, they spent some time travelling all over America and getting into the kitchens with the chefs themselves rather than just tasting the food. They spent 18 months getting their sweet potato fries just right, so that they’re a bit crispy on the outside (a rarity with sweet potato!). The meat is locally sourced and it seems a good deal of work has gone into working with the supplier to get the ribs with enough meat on (and made sure that others will purchase the different cuts caused by making that change). Everything is home made by the way – the BBQ sauce is what started the idea off apparently and it grew from there!
The location is also fantastic too – just by the Corn Exchange right on the corner where Venture Photography used to be. I asked whether they felt they were in competition with Rib Shakk barely a 30 second walk away. James said that Rib Shakk cooks their ribs sous-vide and also don’t offer the variety of menu options that Red’s does. The ambience is great – rock music, low lighting and good use of the space split between eating area and a bar style area. The kitchen is open and you can see the grills and smokers right while you sit at your table.
Anyway, I’m sure you’re dying to hear about the food so here we go…
The cocktail menu is fairly impressive and I couldn’t resist trying an apple and elderflower martini. If you look down the menu you’ll see that all the savoury items have a drink designed to pair perfectly with it.
I ordered a half rock of St Louis ribs, sweet potato fries and the onion rings which I’d also been told had been subject to rigorous testing. I have to say it arrived pretty quickly (and it IS cooked fresh by the way!) – I was busy taking photographs and had barely a minute to consider that I was in fact a lonely diner before the delicious plate of food arrived at my table. There’s five home made sauces to add to your dishes (shown below) – my favourite’s being the BBQ and the Hot Sauce (hot and amazingly sour).
The ribs! OH THE RIBS! Eat mouthful was a taste of meaty heaven, the sweet sauce on meat that pulls off the bone ans still has a good chew. The smoky flavour from 8 hours in the smoker. I am salivating recalling them!
The sweet potato fries had that glorious crispy outer that I was told about – such a good idea and a break from the normal chips that you get in BBQ restaurants. The portion was just right for one and it was a good platform for sampling all the sauces.
The onion rings however were just not to my personal liking. They’re designed to be layers of half an onion but this proved a problem when trying to eat them. I just couldn’t wrap my jaws around them. The batter was crispy, but I thought the onions were just a little too far on the crunchy side and not enough softness. In that respect, Cattle Grid’s onion strings are still kings of the onion sidedish for me.
I cleared my plate save for a stray onion ring and was too full to manage a pudding. I had wanted to try the apple pie shake but they didn’t have it in yet. An excuse to make a return journey tout suite.
The pricing is competitive – aimed to lure the Nando’s crowd as well as the foodies. The half rack of ribs was £13.95 with chips and a side. My cocktail was £6.50. High street pricing, independent quality.
I have no doubt that Red’s is going to successful. There were so many people peering through the window, looking at the menu. Leeds has been waiting for something like this for a while and no-one else is offering this here. It’s also really great to see that London doesn’t get all the amazing stuff – the North is always way behind in many respects but I feel like we truly deserve this!
Website coming soon, fan page here