*EDIT* Smiffy and his delicious bbq grub are no longer based at Last Chance Saloon, they now run the kitchen at The Southbank pub on Trent Bridge. We’ve not been so can’t attest to the same quality, but comments on the dishes still stand!
This is another one of those ‘should we/shouldn’t we’ blog posts where we have to bite the bullet and reveal one of our favourite hidden gems that really we’d like to keep secret. The Last Chance Saloon used to be a fairly decent restaurant called Aurora (if you remember that) and is tucked underground on Stoney St in the Lace Market. We have visited a few times for their signature whisky cocktails and fantastic ‘meet the ambassador’ evenings (where you are overloaded with both awesome booze knowledge and free liquor…) – they used to pitch themselves as ‘bacon and bourbon’ but there’s someone new in town. Yes, gone is the all-you-can-eat ‘Bacon Bad’ Thursdays but here are the new bad lads of BBQ: Smiffy’s Smoke Shack. Smiffy’s have taken up residency in this achingly cool whisky bar for a least a year – can you think of any better combo than bourbon and BBQ?
Smiffy’s do low n slow BBQ the old skool, propa way. After Rub, Red’s and Red Dog Saloon you might groan “please, not another BBQ joint” but that’s just it – this is not just another BBQ joint. If you love meat, you’re gonna love Smiffy’s and the difference in taste to the chain places is phenomenal. Combined with the dimly lit, cave-like cosiness and expertly made cocktails at The Last Chance Saloon, this is the best BBQ you’ve never had.
The menu is surprisingly varied with lots of BBQ meaty options but a few lighter ones too, like a selection of salads and even some veggie options (yes, veggie!)
Loaded fries, uber burgers and a selection of classic BBQ sides are also on the lust-list and the desserts sound delicious too. The ‘be your own pit boss’ option lets you create your own platter and Smiffy’s did that for us to showcase their favourites from the grill.
You should have seen the size of our eyeballs when a giant sharing platter of PURE MEAT was ceremoniously placed between us (ok, there were some pit beans, too). It was spilling over with a caveman-like portion of different cuts of BBQ classics and new BBQ discoveries.
Half rack BBQ pork ribs
Dinosaur rib (Beef rib)
Apologies for the photo quality, it’s so dark in there it’s hard to get a good picture!
Smiffy’s are sticklers for authenticity – if you’re not putting your heart and soul into a 15 hour smoke, you’re wasting a loooot of time. Because BBQ = ‘MURICA, Smiffy’s source prime grade USDA meat from over the pond. I would prefer to support British farmers personally but I have to say the flavour of the meat itself was outstanding – rich and punchy, not bland or overwhelmed by sauce/seasoning. All the meat is smoked over sustainable cherry wood for up to 15 hours in the classic low ‘n’ slow way for the perfect fall-off-the-bone tenderness – it literally melts in your mouth, no knife needed.
What we enjoyed about Smiffy’s BBQ is the meat is left to shine without being overwhelmed by powerful spice rubs or overly sweet BBQ sauce. Smiffy’s get their dry rubs from artisan producer Angus and Oink and make their own finishing sauces that are lovingly yet sparingly added after cooking so as to enhance the meat flavours, not overwhelm them.
The pulled pork was delicious with the smoky, spicy pit beans (bye, bye Heinz), the brisket was soft and beefy with a crispy bark and, although some of the burnt ends were a bit too burnt endy, the succulent pork ribs fell off the bone and straight into our eager mouths. However, we need to talk about dinosaur ribs. Because of their INSANE size, Smiffy’s beef ribs are on the menu as ‘dinosaur ribs’ – not unbelievable when you take a look at it. You genuinely feel like Fred Flintstone when tucking in. This was the highlight of the platter for us, a slowcooked, rich beef rib tastes like the best braised beef dish, it slid off the bone and was absolutely delicious in its meaty, smoky gravy.
Washed down with a bloody lovely Benton’s Old Fashioned cocktail, this was a great feast of a dinner. It was overwhelmingly meaty so we would definitely order a selection of sides next time (maybe in place of pulled pork or brisket or we might pop). With all their classic cocktails priced at £5 from 5-8pm, it’s rude not to have a tipple with your tea – the selection is great and they’re very well made indeed. All table service and they really care about quality here without being too pricey. Take your mates, take out-of-towners, take your date for a bit of meatiniess, booziness and quirkiness.
A great local independent collab, we’ll continue to be back.