We salute you, or not? Rack ‘a Ribs at the Smoke Haus

Some people buy clothes on payday, head out for a night on the town or for a little pamper session. Me, I head straight down to a local steakhouse and gorge on a nice piece of sirloin or BBQ ribs. It’s an expensive habit, but similar to my love of gin and all things delicious, it’s one that I just can’t give up.

Due to my love of steak and ribs, I tend to be pretty critical when I try a new place. I’ve been to America three times and eaten the best steak I’ve ever tasted at a place recommended to me called Manny’s Original Chophouse. It promises the best steak in town (what US of A steak house doesn’t?!) and it didn’t disappoint. In the UK, my favourite place for steak is Miller & Carter and my favourite for ribs is Gas Street Social.

I was pretty excited therefore to hit The Smoke Haus in Brindleyplace recently. With a slogan that says “we’re all about delivering the big flavours of authentic American barbecue,” you can be forgiven for expecting big things.

On arrival, you’re met with a very typical American steakhouse scene. You know the stuff – Harley Davidson, black and white photos of Hollywood stars, French’s classic yellow mustard on the table as a prop to convince you that you could indeed really be in America and not the middle of Birmingham.

Décor aside though, it was my birthday, I was hungry and so I decided to order the biggest and most impressive looking rack of ribs I could find on the menu that were gluten free. Introducing the Jacob’s Ladder, a full four boned slab of pure barbequed meat and a side order of sweet potato fries.

“Jeepers” I said in a polite but not completely true Scooby Do exchange to my friend, “I wish I’d not eaten lunch.” At nearly £25, the ribs presented to me could have fed a small army and his pack of dogs.

One of the reasons I love ribs is because it’s proper finger food. Unfortunately, it’s not the sort of grub you can order when you’re having a civilised meeting with someone unless you feel comfortable with them seeing you eat like a wild animal. The Jacob’s Ladder however, was not finger food, it was so big you had to slice through each layer from the top. As I got down to the middle of the ribs the marinade had completely disappeared – I was left slicing through thick and sometimes fatty chunks of meat similar to when you use a carving knife to dish up the beef for your Sunday roast. I felt then that The Smoke Haus probably focused more of its attention on quantity over quality.

Going back to my earlier statement, I’ve been to America and I know how big their portion sizes are, although some of the best ribs I’ve tasted have been big enough to satisfy your hunger pangs but small enough to leave you wanting more. The meat should literally fall off the bone and the marinade should have soaked through long enough to leave a tangy after taste once you’ve finished. My mistake, I think, was ordering the biggest thing off the menu. It became more of a competition to see how much you can eat rather than an enjoyable experience.

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