Once the domain of private medical practices, Grade II listed buildings, and estate trustees with more money than sense, Marylebone now houses some of the significant players in the burger business: MEATliquor lives under a car park there, Patty and Bun are round the corner, and Tommi's has just rehoused itself on the base of the High Street. Its a mini meat mecca.
And this is where BBQ Whisky Beer have plonked themselves. Just about. Popping up on a quiet street a gnat's guff from the class-dividing bookmakers epicenter that is Edgware Road, in The Wargrave Arms. Forgoing the subtle imprint of the Young's franchise, it's a quaint, genteel boozer with hanging baskets adorning the outside, a brass handled bar, and booze paraphernalia laden shelves.
The pop-up's title on the chalk board outside must prove something of a misnomer if the confused tourists who walked in after us are anything to go by: the connotations are distinctly American, but the execution less so.
Are there barbecue staples?
- Yes. More on that in a minute.
Is there a large selection of whisky, with or without an e?
- Yes. But only if you like Scotch. Single malt.
Is there beer, then?
- Yes, if a crisp hand-pulled Foster's is in your wheelhouse.
Sipping our Foster's, we perused the chalkboard menu as malapropos country musak gently thrummed in the background.
The food arrived with mixed reactions. Guttural phwoars accompanied the nacho-staggered waterfall of cheese sauce that had drowned the Fried Chicken Sandwich, intrigued hums cuddled the pulled pork topped BBQ Pork burger, and slow, pained shakes of the head surrounded the Classic. It arrived proudly displaying two callously burnt cheese slices in a sight reminiscent of a vomiting muppet.
Cutting the decent enough shiny, sesame brioche showed the scorching process had done nothing to actually melt the fucking things, which you could have easily still pulled apart from each other. The patty was cooked well, with char lines surrounding a largely medium insides. But a layer of the not-good kind of sweaty grease residue on the outside, combined with under-seasoning and the cheese, left little impression.
The sauces failed to impart much more, with a runny mayo and ghetto sauce - which must have been the generic tomato chutney - lacking much character. The pickles added a thankful bite of acidity, but bacon was the best ingredient by a fucking marathon, a crispy salt lollop that pleased the buds a ton more than anything else.
Unfulfillment continued with the sides. The pulled pork on the chip bits was overpowering: very sweet and very obviously (almost artificially) hickory, like a glug of liquid smoke had been thrown over it.
The wings turned up looking undercooked and anaemic (one of our company refused to eat them), leaving the skin rubbery and hard to bite through, and tasteless but for a hint of sweet chilli and a vague waft of heat.
Reports from the Fried Chicken burger were that of cinema nacho cheese sauce having been drizzled over a sub-standard chicken shop effort.
Such disappointment leaves us bemused. Reflective, even.
But, but, these guys won Ribstock this year!?And there's the rub, so to speak. How does something so poor come from something so widely acclaimed?
The answer we're having to placate ourselves with, to stop the culinary dichotomy leaving us curled up on the floor in despair:
We didn't get the ribs.