I have finally had the opportunity to visit Hang Fire Southern Kitchen and sample the fantastic smoked deliciousness I’ve heard so much about. Sam and Shauna have gone from strength to strength in the last few years. Having toured america and sampled some of the worlds best BBQ – they returned to Wales and started their own pop-up/street food company. Their popularity has grown tremendously over last few years, first earning them the coveted BBCR4 award for ‘Best Street Food’ and now they have opened their own restaurant in Barry. They are also stars of their own TV show ‘Sam & Shauna’s Big Cookout’, much loved by anyone interested in BBQ. I’ve always been a big fan of Hang Fire but actually only had the opportunity to eat their food once before now and that was one of their street food events. In fact, the ribs I had that day are one of the biggest reasons I got back into BBQ. It’s fair to say I was incredibly excited to get the chance to really try their food.
Before going to the Hang Fire Southern Kitchen I already had a pretty good idea what I was going to order. I knew that I didn’t want to be sensible and order anything less expensive or anything healthy. I just wanted to order what I really wanted and try as much as I can reasonably eat without rolling back to the car. I rarely order three courses in a restaurant but this time I definitely would.
First thing I notice when we walk in is that the restaurant is for some reason smaller than I imagined. Perhaps I’ve been watching too many American TV shows with big smokehouses and giant pits out the back. However the decor inside was great. Very nice atmosphere and very comfortable. The menu is pretty easy to read and understand. Not so much to chose from that you end up confused.
For starters I ordered the Piggybacks. “Puffed pork crackling with 21hr smoked pork shoulder and Pico de Gallo salsa” – £4.50. The Pulled pork and Pico de Gallo Salsa were fantastic. Really tender and full of flavour. Better than any pulled pork I have ever had. The puffed pork crackling pieces were also flavourful and offered a contrasting texture similar to a prawn cracker. The only slight issue if I were being picky would be that the puffs were just slightly on the stale side. I don’t suppose they had been left lying around for a long period of time but perhaps the small time under the hot lights (if they do go under hot lights) did them no favours. My sisters husband ordered the Hushpuppies. “Sweetcorn, cheddar and onion savoury donuts with Fry Sauce” – £4.15. These things were absolutely brilliant. Never had them before but totally inspired to make them at home. I only had one but I wish I had ordered my own plate full! I had no idea what fry sauce was so did a quick google search. Apparently it’s normally made with one part tomato ketchup and two parts mayonnaise. Perhaps their version was more than that but either way it was fantastic with the donuts.
For my main I decided to opt for the 3 meats and 2 sides option. £23. Specifically brisket, ribs and sausage with brisket pit beans and a cornbread muffin as my sides. I also ordered a side of pickles. for an additional £1.50. The part I was most looking forward to was the brisket. It was served on a piece of ‘Texas Toast’ and some of the meat juices poured over. When the brisket first came out it looked very succulent and tender. It wasn’t quite the big slices you see in American smokehouses but still looked great. The texas toast worked fantastically and although I hadn’t heard of that pairing before it did really taste good. Next was the ribs. The menu stipulates 2 bones but I had 3. The ribs were actually better than the brisket in my opinion. Very tender, very juicy and packed full of flavour. Pork in general is probably my favourite meat to cook on the smoker and ribs in particular are spectacular when done right. These ribs would be the exact way I would like my ribs to be served every single time. The sauce/glaze was super tasty and the light dusting of rub really tops it off perfectly. The surprise of the night for me was the ‘Smoked House Made Texas Sausage’. The sausage was almost chorizo like. The skin has a nice snap and the filling was the perfect balance of sweetness from garlic and fat and heat from the spices. I just wish I had more of it. Definitely going to be cooking more of this type of sausage at home as a result. Next I come to the sides. The pit beans were brilliant. Provided a different texture and flavour to the rest of the plate which worked well. I also had the Cheddar & Onion Cornbread Muffin. This is described on the menu as ‘goes best with our pit beans’ which is why I ordered the two together. I have to say that this is the only thing I couldn’t finish. As much as it pains me to say it, the muffin was very dry. I’ve never had a cornbread muffin before so I’m not sure if that is how it is supposed to be but I anticipated something much lighter to soak up all of the pit beans sauce. I did feel slightly disappointed with that element but thankfully everything else was pretty perfect. On the table we also had the choice of three different sauces. ‘Kansas City Classic BBQ’, ‘South Carolina Mustard Sauce’ and ‘Texas Espresso Barbecue Sauce’. All of these sauces were pretty punchy. I think all of them were more vinegary type sauces than sweet sauces. Each of them worked well with different parts of the meal so I used them all.
Two of the others ordered similar items but opted for 2 meats instead of 3 for £18. They tried other elements such as the pulled pork and fries which I did not sample but looked just as fantastic. My sister also ordered the Hang Fire Chicken Burger for £14. I didn’t try that either but it did look like you got a lot for your money and I would be happy to order that during a future visit.
For desert most of us ordered the Chocolate Brownie. “Baked daily and finished with smoked sea salt. With Vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce” – £4.50. This was a great desert. The salt was a nice twist giving the brownie a distinct but pleasant flavour. Would probably order the same thing next time. My fiancee ordered the S’mores. “Our take on an American camp fire classic. Home baked cookies, milk chocolate, and
marshmallows. Gooey and delicious!” – £4.50. I would have really enjoyed this and could definitely see myself trying this on a future visit. My fiancee however, is not a fan of cinnamon at all and that was the dominant flavour in the cookies. I think she envisioned two chocolate chip cookies sandwiching the marshmallows and chocolate. She didn’t finish the cookies but this is in no way a negative reflection on the desert itself. Maybe the menu could stipulate cinnamon as the cookie flavour but I think most people would have been happy with what was served anyway.
In conclusion, My experience at Hang Fire Southern Kitchen was near perfect. The food was exquisite and everything that I hoped it would be. The stand out elements for me were the Hushpuppies, ribs and the Texas sausage. I would probably order all of that next time but I want to sample as much as possible before I settle into my favourites. If you are a fan of BBQ or just want to eat some fantastic food – This is the place for you. I would 100% recommend Hang Fire Southern Kitchen to absolutely everyone. If you do go… Let me know what you thought but don’t leave it too long to book because the waiting list is pretty long. Keep your eyes peeled on the blog because I’ll be going back soon and writing about it all over again.
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Written by Tomos Newland-Jones @MrNewland66