Thursday, 25 October 2012
Red Dog Saloon, Hoxton Square
Who are they?
Tucked away in a corner of trendy East London's Hoxton Square (and right next to a Byron!) the Red Dog Saloon has been making a name for itself in the food scene by offering a selection of hearty American foods, cooked and barbequed the way momma cooks them in the southern states - in a smoker. To this end, Red Dog offer hamburgers, steaks, ribs, pulled pork, wings and the like with BBQ style flavours, all served in heartily large portions. Add in a couple of Man vs Food eating challenges for hot wings and their signature Devastator Burger and it's not difficult to see why they remain popular.
Red Dog's popularity is such that they seem to be busy on most weeknights as well as at weekends and going in on a Wednesday at around 8.30pm was no exception. Despite getting seated on a two man table relatively quickly, it was a good 15 minutes before an exhausted looking waiter noticed us and came over to take our order. Luckily, we knew what to expect as this was not the first time we had been and once this initial ordeal was over, service was speedy and more than made up for it.
Rather than go for the heavy end of the burgers, I opted for a double Blue Cheese and Bacon burger and fries. In a nod to other establishments such as Byron, the burger arrived with a slice of gherkin to contrast the tower of meat, dwarfing the bun that it was served on. Tucked away between the two large beef patties is a good serving of melted aged stilton, slices of applewood-smoked bacon and a red onion chutney, with some small lettuce shavings thrown in for good measure. Needless to say there is plenty to eat on your plate; whether you opt for cutlery or hands is a matter of personal preference.
First of all, I will get what little negative there is to say about the burger out of the way. The burger patties are rather greasy, a product of the cooking process I suspect. This then leads to problem number two: the bottom of the bun quickly disintegrates, spilling the contents everywhere. This may or may not be a disadvantage, depending on how you actually want to eat it. Either way, I believe these are small gripes to contend with but are still worth mentioning.
As for the burger itself, the meat used for the patties is pretty good, well seasoned and thoroughly cooked, making it very soft to bite into. The stilton is a nice strong, almost overpowering taste against the barbeque flavoured beef, occassionally getting some nice crunchy bacon in a bite for good measure. The red onion chutney is a lovely, gooey topping to this mixture of strong tastes and the whole ensemble works really well, if a little unstable to hold and as my photo demonstrates, this is quite a mouthful to contend with. The fries, which are comparable to the standard served in KFC restaurants, almost didn't get a look in through the entire meal, making this a first for me. I dare say that sides are a bit over the top if you are going for a double or even triple burger here and as a result, a meal at Red Dog is definitely one better shared with friends where you can pick at the generous basket of fries as much as you wish.
Well, you certainly won't go hungry in Red Dog and prices are comparable to other chain burger restaurants (about £20 a head). It is best described as the loud and messy cousin to a Byron burger; where its menu lacks finess or subtlety of flavours, it makes up for this in typical American style with large portion sizes and there is no doubt that the barbeque smoker adds a nice character to its wares.
Where can I find them?
Nearest tube is Old Street (Northern Line) or Hoxton/Shoreditch (Overground)