The influence of American pit grill cooking is making itself known in Sheffield with the appearance of pulled pork on lots of menus.
The Common Room sports bar, on the first floor of the Forum next to Devonshire Green, decided to go the whole hog, as it were, and has introduced two huge US smoke pits into the kitchen.
The chefs experimented with types of wood and use pellets of hickory and applewood, according to head chef Jason Wilson, a Nether Edge lad.
The meat is slow cooked in the smoker after it has been marinaded in various rubs made on the premises and regularly anointed with barbecue mop sauces (the name comes from using a tool that looks like one of those little washing-up mops).
John, who worked with his boss executive chef Andy Burns on the new menu and recipes, said some of the biggest joints go into the smoker for 15 to 16 hours.
They relaunched the venue on July 4, naturally, and so far it hsas been a big success. John reports that sale are up 100 per cent on last year already.
One of the biggest draws is pay per view TV wrestling events, when the kitchen stays open well into the early hours. Apparently people come dressed in wrestling costumes. The Superbowl final is another big draw.
No wonder because I counted 21 TVs in the bar and dining area, which was buzzing on Saturday evening. There are big US pool tables round the corner.
The menu is printed on a paper table mat and there’s combos and platters, burgers and veggie options, hoagie sandwiches, hand-cut nachos and starters and light bites. There’s even three breakfast options, seved until 3pm.
Our business was with the barbecue pit, so friend Bridget and I tried two dishes, plus a hot dog.
The bar has a range of US craft ales – I tried an excellent Brooklyn Brewery lager– and a huge range of Bourbons. Cocktails are also spot on and we had a raspberry mojito (£5.75)and a margarita (£5.95).
We skipped starters and went for beef long ribs, pulled Boston butt and a common dog, plus the frickles.
The small portion of beef long ribs (£16) was generous with one section a bit like belly pork that was a bit too chewy. However, the rack of ribs was great, with lots of interesting flavours.
The best dish was the butt (£8.50), which is pulled pork. It came in a little white and blue bowl enamel topped with bright green chilli slaw. The shredded meat was very good, tender and smoky, with a great sweet barbecued taste that followed on. Slaw was good and not overpowering.
The hot dog (£4.50) was good stuff, meaty and smoky from the pit grill. It tasted like the real deal.
The mains came with an enamel cup of thin US-style chips and nice coleslaw. An alternative to fries was a little cornbread loaf, which was too cakey for me. The other accompaniment, a little dish of baked beans with black beans in, was just the thing.
Don’t bother with frickles (£2), dill pickle deep fried in an unpleasantly thick batter.
Leave room for the excellent blueberry cheesecake (£4), served in a jar for some daft reason. A mouth explosion of fruit and creaminess. Godo coffee. too.
Our bill came to £50.60 but there was enough for three.