12 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London
The Big Easy opened on The King’s Road over twenty years ago. I imagine they’ve done pretty well out of the ‘dirty food’ craze that has swept through London in recent years (see Meat Liquor, Burger & Lobster, etc) and the second restaurant opened recently in a disused power station near Covent Garden. With its Southern jazz soundtrack and dark wooden walls, the location perfectly recreates the feel of a New Orleans BBQ and lobster shack.
The menu allows you to choose from dry rubbed ribs, pulled pork, BBQ chicken, lobster, steak, a range of burgers or assorted sharing platters. It offers to serve up an authentic taste of the Southern States with traditional extras to compliment the main meals, such as a cornbread muffin or deep fried voodoo shrimp with blue-cheese dipping sauce. The Big Easy provides great value for money – for £16 I had a generous portion of succulent dry-rubbed ribs with a sweet, smoky and spicy pour-over sauce, pit-smoked homemade baked beans, slaw and a potato salad which can, if you prefer, be swapped for fries. The ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender and full of flavour, and the sauce was, quite simply, perfect.
Our extra side of mac ‘n’ cheese wasn’t quite up to scratch; I had hoped for a cheesy, devilish dish similar to that at Hawksmoor, but it was dry and didn’t contain nearly enough cheese. However, this was the only disappointment. Everything else was spot on, including the service (although perhaps jovial is the only way to be when you know you have to fit a plastic bib around the necks of 10 hungry adult diners) and the atmosphere was great. The restaurant also has a small bar area and a bizarre but fantastic drinks menu including boozy shakes, cocktails or a range of whiskies served with pickles (‘Pickle Backs’) and musicians play nightly sets at the Covent Garden branch. They also serve a regular hog roast and limitless offerings of shrimp and pork. I’ll be back sometime soon to try a burger and the ‘Colonel Parker’ – a bourbon, banana liquor, milk and peanut butter ice cream shake.