Eat with your hands, poshos
The number of American-style barbecue restaurants is growing, but not necessarily for the better. Mediocre restaurants such as Porky’s and Red Dog Saloon are opening up new branches left, right and centre while far better vendors such as Pitt Cue and Miss P’s Barbecue are still stuck at one site or have to be content with the occasional pop-up. I was therefore relived and overjoyed to hear that The Joint was opening a Marylebone branch with proper seating and reservations, but my joy proved to be short-lived.
First things first
The pulled pork from the original Brixton-based Joint was one of the best in last year’s American barbecue group test. The version here is as good as ever – firm and and lightly smoky, the porky strands were served along with a aniseed-ish coleslaw in a crisp, buttery bun. The bun is a joy in of itself, but it does get in the way of enjoying the pork somewhat. While among the best pulled pork you can get in the capital, it’s no longer my favourite – that honour goes to the pulled pork available from the Covent Garden branch of Big Easy as it has an even greater depth of flavour.
The barbecue chicken wings were tender and came coated in a mildly tangy sauce which, thankfully, stuck to the meat rather than to my fingers. They’re not especially smoky and in terms of texture and visceral pleasure they’re no match for Patty and Bun’s confit chicken wings, but they’re good enough in their own right.
Going back for seconds
Disappointingly, The Joint doesn’t offer beef short rib on the bone but instead sells the rib meat in a bun. This can be a perfectly good way of serving rib meat though as The Rib Man ably demonstrates. The sandwich here lacked the spine-tingling sauces used by The Rib Man though, and while the strands of rib meat here were moist and tender they lacked the smokiness and collagen that makes beef short rib so enjoyable. The crisp, starchy, lightly sweet and very moreish bun can get in the way of the meat, but it’s so good in its own right that I don’t actually mind that much.
Ribs at The Joint
Like the Brixton original, the Marylebone Joint skips meatier pork spare ribs in favour of baby back ribs. Served chopped rather than as a big, showy rack, each rib had a lightly crisp exterior and tender flesh but was lacking in smokiness. The accompanying coleslaw was crisp and not excessively creamy. The usual side of onion rings was off, with lightly charred, buttery corn on the cob taking its place.
The riblets are effectively smaller sized versions of the baby back ribs designed as starters or sides. The barbecue riblets were coated in a mildly tangy sauce, but the meat wasn’t smoky enough and was almost too tender. The same problems afflicted the chilli riblets, but these at least had a mild, fruity spicy heat.
The Joint’s pulled pork is top-notch, but that can’t hide the fact that the rest of the menu is merely satisfactory and hasn’t evolved to meet the competition from London’s other barbecue restaurants. The Joint is a decent barbecue restaurant, especially for the otherwise BBQ-less Marylebone, but it’s a choice of last resort when you can’t get a table at Pitt Cue, Big Easy Covent Garden or Texas Joe’s.
What to order: Pulled pork bun
What to skip: The riblets
Name: The Joint
Branch tried: 19 New Cavendish Street, Marylebone, London W1G 9TZ
Phone: 020 7486 3059
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Sunday noon-23.00, closed Mondays.
Reservations: probably a good idea
Average cost for one person including soft drinks: £15-20 approx.
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