November 18th, 2006

Feast

Rhodes Bar-b-q

Location: 61 Wapping Wall, not far west of The Prospect of Whitby, Wapping, in east London.

London's no barbecue town. Oh, it has the odd place, but I've yet to really try them out. But the other week, walking through Wapping, I noticed a new barbecue joint had unexpectedly opened up, and within reasonable walking distance of us. So we went; in fact, we went back again.

Rhodes Bar-b-que is a small place, well-lit with pale woods and walls which would be white if plenty of visitors hadn't drawn all over them in brightly colored markers. Paper placemats double as menus, and they boat of the research they did, scouring the southern states in search of good smoking technique.

The appetizer drumsticks were spicy, but underneath there wasn't much depth of flavor. The barbecue pork ribs seemed watery, an odd reaction to a meat that's undergone smoking. The coleslaw was indifferent. The corn bread would have been better warm, and with butter. But it wasn't all mediocre: the dinner salad was good, with shavings of parmesan jazzing it up, and just the right amount of salad dressing mixed in. The beans were intriguing, a successful combo halfway between barbecue and chili.

We went back again, for it's hard to resist an inexpensive, convenient eatery which fills a much-missed hole in our diet. This time we ordered the buffalo drumsticks, and a three-meat platter with brisket, pork ribs, and chicken. The buffalo drumsticks really weren't, the brisket erred on the side of dry and tough, and the ribs were much the same as the week before. But the chicken! The barbecue chicken was excellent, soft and complex, sympathetic to the low-key spice of the sauce.

It's not really much like what I miss from back in the U.S., but it'll do. It has its highlights, and those are worth going back for.

Note: a casual websearch turns up more than one London location for the company, one near City Airport, another near Regent's Park. Is it a fledgling chain? I notice the lack of address listed on their website.