Saturday 9 March 2013

The Red Dog Saloon, Hoxton Square, N1

This is very much a mid-level restaurant ‘of the moment'. This is for two reasons: 1) it’s in a ‘cool’ location and 2) because of the Man vs. Food style challenge that they publicise at every opportunity. The Devastator challenge has been covered in many newspapers and magazines over the last 18 months or so, and continues to be talked about on TV; last week, even on ‘The Alan Titchmarsh Show’ (not a show I watch)!

On Thursday night I visited The Red Dog Saloon for the first time; this was for a friends leaving do at work, so it is worth stating up front that we started to drink before 6pm and didn’t eat until after 9pm, never a great thing!

First, starters. This looked like the standard plate of deep-fried bits and bobs that nearly every middle-of-the-road pub and restaurant will sell. Actually, it was really very good and each of the five elements (onion rings, chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, stuffed jalapenos and king prawns) were excellent. The chicken wings in particular were meaty and juicy and just the right side of too spicy.

The challenge is called The Devastator and if you complete this in 10 minutes you get it for free. I inevitably chose this for my main course, but I opted not to attempt this as a challenge, instead to enjoy and savour it as a main course. This is because of the quantity of alcohol already consumed and the likelihood of seeing it all again.

When the burger arrives it is genuinely a spectacle. The way that it is held together by wooden skewers shows that this is a main course that means business and demands respect. Hopes were high. As there are so many parts to it, I’m going to split this into three categories: the good, the bad and the indifferent…

The good.

The pulled pork was excellent, really excellent, and there was a lot of it. Equally good were the homemade condiments, especially the Kansas City sauce. I could have eaten a whole plate of the pulled pork doused in this sauce.

The bad.

The fries were very disappointing, barely cooked and devoid of any real flavour, I think because of the oil that they were cooked in. Equally disappointing was the bacon, there was never the 6 rashers that the menu states. It was too crispy (and I like crispy bacon), so much so that it just turned to dust when eaten.

The indifferent.

All the rest. The bun, the cheese, the accompaniments and unfortunately the burgers. None of it was bad. It was just very average.

So, in summary, not somewhere I would actively recommend. But equally not somewhere I would exactly avoid. I wouldn’t go as far as to award a TOTAL-STINKER as it was all just too inoffensive but I can’t help but be disappointed. There is something very exciting about a food challenge and they are few and far between in the UK. You are better off switching over to Dave, watching a few episodes of Adam devouring something epic on Man vs. Food and tucking into a smaller, better, burger.

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