Authentic Deep South style American BBQ is SO my jam. I fell in love with Rendezvous in Memphis, chowing down on mouth-watering ribs. So when the prospect of visiting the Original Smokehouse in Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush, presented itself, I was pretty excited. Priding themselves on Southern style comfort food with a twist, their low’n’slow cooked meats and homemade rubs are what they’re all about.
Perched along the restaurant strip leading up to Westfield, it’s an easy location to head to for a post-shopping refuel. Inside, the walls are covered in fun signs and neon lettering, and the intimate vibe immediately takes you away from the busy rush of the shopping centre. We took a seat by the window, watching lights twinkle and late-night shoppers bustle by.
Because I’m doing DRY JANUARY (yeah hi, I’m one of THOSE people now), I had a Chocolate Milkshake (£4), while Conor chose a Budwieser. The milkshake was obviously made with some quality ice cream, as it was rich and incredibly more-ish. The consistency was exactly as I like it too – not too thick, but not the kind where you’re basically drinking chocolate milk.
Three starters between two is okay, right? The Arancini Mac and Cheese Balls (£3.50) were the cheapest on the starters menu, so we expected a small portion – and were pleasantly surprised when four sizeable balls (*giggle*) arrived. The crispy exterior gave way to a light, soft cheesy taste inside and well-cooked mac. Sometimes I find mac and cheese can be a bit sharp on the cheese side, but these ones were soft and subtle.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t enamoured by the Salt and Pepper Squid (£6) – it just seemed a bit bland and could have done with a bit more seasoning. There also just wasn’t enough actual squid inside to create the right ratio, which made it seem like this dish was mostly just crispy batter – and the battered red peppers mixed in definitely didn’t work for me.
Thankfully, the Burnt End Bites (£5.50) absolutely delivered on tastiness. Chunks of smoked beef brisket in a Cajun rub, these were wonderfully soft and satisfying. I could happily just eat a huge plate of these any day of the week.
Because we’re greedy pigs hungry people who like to try a bit of everything, the Butcher’s Board (£44) was an obvious choice. And it’s pretty huge. Stacked up with (*breathes in*) BBQ brisket, spitfire bacon, pork ribs, beef back ribs, chipotle-rub free range chicken, smoked chorizo, BBQ beans, corn on the cob, pickles, fries and cornbread, it’s aimed at 2-3 people. And the two of us definitely struggled a bit towards the end!
One of the highlights of the platter was the beef brisket. 12 hour smoked and with a pepper berry rub, it was stunningly tender and packed with amazing flavour. If you’re not opting for the platter, I’d 100% recommend this is the dish you order. IT’S SO GOOD.
Also high on my approval list were the pork and beef ribs. Slathered in sticky, gooey BBQ sauce, the meat fell off the bone perfectly – and made quite the mess of my face and fingers…
The chicken, while still tasty, wasn’t quite up to the level of the brisket and ribs – but only because they were so damn good. For a chicken dish, it was still very impressive though. The chipotle gave it a very light spice, and the meat itself was excellently cooked. Team it with a pot of the Piri Piri sauce for an extra kick.
The corn on the cob may seem like a small addition, but it actually provided a great break from the meat-heavy platter, working as a palate cleanser too. Additionally, the BBQ beans were actually a lot less BBQ focused than I was expecting, and the chips were very light, fluffy and simply seasons. This may sound like a negative, but both actually complimented the flavours and meatiness of the rest of the platter really well.
Despite stuffing our faces with the platter, there’s always room for dessert. The Original Smokehouse has a limited selection, and we chose the Peanut Cheesecake Brownie (£6) and Sticky Toffee Pudding (£4). These homemade dishes are served bitesized, and with a generous scoop of white chocolate ice cream.
Surprisingly, as I’m not normally a sticky toffee kinda gal, this was the dessert I was most enamoured with – rich and warming, and a perfect mouthful with a little bit of white chocolate ice cream. The brownies were okay, but a little too solid for my tastes – I prefer my brownies soft, chewy and melting in the mouth.
In a comfortable, relaxed setting, it was definitely an overall enjoyable meal. There were a few aspects, such as the aforementioned Salt and Pepper Squid and the Peanut Cheesecake Brownie, that were sadly unremarkable – but when Original Smokehouse gets it right, it really does get it right. The main draw is most certainly the delicious BBQ-ed ribs and brisket, and it’s definitely worth a visit for a taste of those alone.
The Original Smokehouse
1026 Ariel Way, Shepherd’s Bush, London
*We were offered a complimentary meal in exchange for review – all opinions my own.