Duke’s Brew and Que – Review

Ok, it’s official, I’ve been eating a lot of BBQ food recently.  It’s pretty hard to avoid in London at the moment.  However, I think I’ve done my dash, at least for a few weeks.  After going to Duke’s Brew and Que at the weekend, it has successfully quelled my desire for ribs.

Duke’s Brew and Que is in über cool Dalston and boy do you know it.  There are trendy’s hanging around outside, smoking rollies and sporting the ubiquitous oversized bobble hat.  Inside is not much different, it is wall to wall with achingly cool hipsters and the occasional bbq loving family.  There was one guy who was sporting a baseball jacket, I think he was an Americanophile.  On a cold winters night, it was a welcome haven.  Lots of wood and warm red light make you feel instantly comfortable.  After ordering a drink at the bar, we then perused the menu until the kitchen opened.  It is a short menu but this always gets brownie points from me.  So many places spread themselves too thin and try to please everyone; which is impossible.  So, stick to a simple formula and execute it well.  Unfortunately, on this occasion, they did not execute it well.

For a restaurant whose ribs are hailed in the Time Out top ten dishes of 2012, you go in with high expectations.  This, coupled with the knowledge that they imported a wood smoker from the states, definitely makes you think you’re in for a great rib experience.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t.  The two pork ribs arrived, as advertised, with a side of slaw.  I also ordered seasoned skinny fries and brussels sprouts (their specials were a nod to thanksgiving).  As soon as I looked at the ribs, I thought they looked a little dry and I was right.  There were tiny pockets of moist goodness but as a whole the ribs were tough and parched, although they were nicely smoky, I didn’t really enjoy the sauce in which they were basted either.  As much as I’d love to say that the side dishes redeemed them, they didn’t.  There was nothing wrong with them, there was just nothing right with them.  The sautéed sprouts showed no sign of seeing a hot pan or the butter  in which they were supposed to be cooked and the seasoned fries seemed to be lacking said seasoning.  Slaw which came with the ribs was not rich and creamy nor was it fresh and crunchy, it was in a kind of slaw no mans land.

I’m hoping that the chef was just having an off day, sometimes with a signature dish, things just get overlooked.  It is easy to assume that your tried and tested recipe will just work time and again but clearly someone took their eye off the ball on this occasion.  Duke’s Brew and Que is a warm, laid-back place which has a dedicated following, however, after my visit, I’m struggling to see why.  I’m going on rib detox for at least a month.  Wish me luck.

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