On Monday evening I visited the latest addition to Nottingham’s American BBQ scene, which Is Red Dog Saloon. Located in The Lace Market, Red Dog Saloon is an American themed BBQ restaurant that opened in early October, which seats around 150 people and is located in the building which used to be Ark. Their Nottingham restaurant is their first outside of London and their fourth venue after their previous three in; Soho, Clapham North and Hoxton Square. I was really excited about trying this venue as I like the crazy dishes that Rubs Smokehouse serve up and the authentic smoky flavours of Red’s True BBQ, so I was hoping that this would be just as good and maybe offer something slightly different in terms of dishes and flavour, whilst still being authentic and having that classic smoky BBQ taste.
The outside is easily identifiable with the name Red Dog Saloon lighting either side of this restaurant. The inside is also really imposing and it is evident that a lot of time and money has been spent in creating a more sophisticated yet still casual dining experience for its diners compared to other American and BBQ venues which have a very rough and ready interior. The venue is decked with pictures and other authentic American items adding to the experience. The dark wood and warm but low lighting creates a very warm and welcoming ambience and there is a good range of seating to cater for couples, families and large parties of people. The booth where we were sat was both spacious and comfortable. Upon entry we were seated quickly and our drinks orders were taken shortly after. Their drinks menu is extensive and they offer several on tap beers, margaritas, wines, spirits and soft drinks. We ordered a two margaritas as they have a happy hour on between 5-7PM which is 241 on most drinks. We had a strawberry margarita fresh and a frozen one, £6.50. The fresh strawberries came through well and made the drinks a really nice light red colour. They were simple yet well-presented and of good quality.
To eat we ordered 4 maple and bacon wings £4.50, El Diablo Bar-B-Q sandwich £9.50, Bar-B-Q beef burger £10.95, 2x sweet potato fries £3.95, mozzarella sticks £5.50, mac and cheese £3.25 and meaty beans £3.25. The food arrived really quickly and we soon tucked in to our starter of 4 wings that were seasoned with maple and bacon. Sweet smells came wafting from the basket. There was a good amount of chicken on them for wings too. The skin on the wings was crispy and the chicken underneath was juicy. The sweet glaze complimented them well and the diced pieces of smoked bacon were slightly crispy and added more textures and some saltiness to contrast the sweetness of the maple syrup.
Next up were the mains and a host of sides. The Bar-B-Q burger which contained a double beef patty, Applewood smoked bacon, American cheese and onion rings. The beef was both succulent and moist and held together well. The beef itself was lightly seasoned and not overpowered with pepper like some places tend to do, so this allowed the full flavour of the meat to come through. The onion rings were crisp and light and added a nice crunch to the burger. Further to this, the bacon added extra smokiness and the cheese was mild which allowed the other flavours to come through without being over powered. The El Diablo was also ordered from their selection of Bar-B-Q sandwiches. This was loaded with 12 hour smoked brisket, southern style smoked sausages and jalapenos. This came served in a fresh and lightly toasted brioche bun which was good as it stopped it from going soggy. The sausages had a chewy casing and had a robust, smoky flavour which was enhanced by the tangy and bold flavours of the inclusion of their BBQ sauce. The beef brisket was the star of the show, piled high inside the bun and it was as aesthetically pleasing as it was tasty. It had a good char to the edges and range in colour from the smoking, which imparted a delicate smoke flavour throughout. The meat was extremely tender and had a buttery melt in the mouth texture and taste. To complete this dish was the heat from the jalapenos which worked well with the subtle and smoky flavours of the meat. The coleslaw was creamy but not overly runny and it had a good hint of heat from the addition of pepper which was a well worked twist as it matched the flavours of the rich meats.
The sides were fairly good and complimented the flavours and textures of the main dishes. The sweet potato fries were decent enough and came lightly salted to lift the sweet flavours and were fluffy on the inside whilst still being crispy on the outside. The mac and cheese was possibly one of the best I have ever had, it did the simple things well and is far better than the ones other similarly themed venues in Nottingham do. It was coated in a thick and creamy cheese sauce and topped with fine and crunchy bread crumbs which added texture to the dish. The meaty beans were rich and full of contrasting flavours that were built up by the various components of the dish with large strips of pulled pork, bean, onion and a slight hint of heat from the chilli as well as having a slight tang. This complimented the meats on the mains well as it was packed full of flavour. Although, we did feel that the mozzarella stick were slightly overdone and quite chewy.
Even though we were stuffed we managed to find enough room to share a dessert. We opted for an Oreo and white chocolate fudge pie, served with raspberry custard shake. The dessert was massive and came served with a thick shake which was probably overly thick but had a smooth and refreshing taste. The dessert itself was creamy and thick with a sweet and chocolatey richness from the Oreos.
Overall, I was very impressed with this venue, all aspects of the restaurant seemed to be of a high standard from the welcome that we received to the knowledge and attentiveness of all of their staff. Although it wasn’t packed there was a fair few inside still so I was pleased to see that the service seemed to be quick at most tables. I will be visiting again and I feel that there is enough choice whilst still retaining a good quality of food. This was a complimentary meal provided by the restaurant. However, the write up is honest and written based on the experience on my visit.
Best bits: This venue is good for a range of occasions from work dos, birthday parties and smaller groups and meals out with friends. Their beef brisket was a particular highlight to their menu as it was rich and tender and full of subtle smoky flavours. The staff were very attentive and knowledgeable. Further to this, their mac and cheese was a showstopper, it did the simple things well being rich and creamy and much better than the mac and cheese I have had at other venues within Nottingham.
To improve: I would like to have seen some warm options on their dessert menu. Perhaps this could be done through the introduction of a ‘monthly special’.
Location: 20 – 22 Victoria Street, Nottingham, NG1 2EX.
Opening times: Monday to Wednesday 12PM – 11PM, Thursday to Friday 12PM till 12AM, Saturday 10AM till 12AM and Sunday 10AM till 10:30PM.