Bubba Q, Edinburgh restaurant review: Prepare to be stuffed with finger-flicking fare
Prepare to be stuffed with finger-licking fare you’ll be dining on into next week, writes Kayt Turner.
Bubba Q, 209-213 High Street, Edinburgh
Tel: 0131-478 5472, www.bubbaq.co.uk
The great thing about the food of the Deep South is, generally, that it entertains everyone. Yes, some people might initially turn their noses up at ribs and chicken wings – but it doesn’t take long before they are licking their fingers and wiping their hands on their jeans as they reach for more.
As is so often the way, some of the best purveyors of a country’s, ahem, cuisine, aren’t necessarily from that nation. Not all bistros are run by Frenchmen. Very few pizza houses are managed solely by Italians. In this particular instance, the food is brought to you via those well-known BBQ nations, erm, Poland and Scotland.
Oh yes, countries famed for their long balmy evenings where everyone sits outside and stuff themselves with wings and ribs. I don’t know about you, but my memories of barbecuing in Scotland mainly involve umbrellas and sou’westers.
Bubba Q is in a deep basement off the Royal Mile. You quickly descend from tourist tartan overload to an unexpectedly light interior.
The corrugated steel on the walls along with the rough wood tables give a fairly faithful rendition of a southern barbecue joint – although including the gents toilets in the cantina theme seemed to be taking authenticity a bit too far.
One of Mr Turner’s (many) theories is that any proper barbecue has great salads and vegetarian dishes.
We’ve been in many Brazilian churrascos that have amazing black bean stews as well as steak restaurants that do a Caesar’s salad to die for. After all, if you are the master of your grill, you’re surely not going to sully your reputation with a flabby Portobello mushroom or by quickly pinging a vegetable lasagne.
So, instead of ordering a starter we decided to share their veggie burger.
The V (£9.5 – still this pesky deletion of the “0” – what is wrong with people?) is, in fact, a Moving Mountains plant-based B12 burger with mayo, cheese, lettuce, tomato and onions. (It’s a trademark veggie burger that I have subsequently seen in a few other places). I don’t know that “plant-based B12” will necessarily be getting your juices flowing.
And I would be with you – if I hadn’t tasted this particular bit of deliciousness. A solidly packed patty that has a slightly looser texture than a normal burger, but rather than the dried out lumps that I’ve come to expect from other bean patties, this was moist and light. So much so, we were each annoyed that we had agreed to split it.
Our main, main course was the Pit Boss Platter (£36). This is not billed as a sharing plate, but comes with beef brisket, BBQ pulled pork, a half slab of baby ribs, pulled beef, chicken wings and – by way of a garnish, I imagine – spicy pork sausages. There’s also an accompanying small bucket of coleslaw and a huge handful of fries.
This is bloke heaven (Indeed, on the restaurant website, there isn’t a single woman to be seen eating at the tables. Serving, yes, but I suppose you’ve got to have some of those Old South customs along with their food). Even a pair of gluttons like us were going to struggle with this – how one person was meant to eat it all was beyond me. The BBQ equivalent of ordering the hottest curry on the menu to impress your mates, I would think.
That Adam Richman has a lot to answer for.
Our tin plates and mason jars added that extra air of legitimacy – as did the kitchen roll (which I was initially a little sniffy about, but quickly realised just how invaluable it was going to be).
The meats were all succulent and tender.
The brisket and pulled pork didn’t look as if they had been shredded so much as that they had just fallen that way on the plate. The ribs – thank goodness for that kitchen roll – almost fell off the bone as you picked them up. The sauce, unlike so many bbq sauces I’ve tasted in the past, was sweet but far from sickly. What grew overwhelmingly on the palate however was the liquid smoke. It was certainly used sparingly in each dish, but cumulatively became the overwhelming theme. A little more variation in marinades would have been nice.
The sheer quantity of food, and its eventual similarity, meant that we weren’t possibly going to be able to finish it.
Our lovely waiter came to our rescue with the offer of take-out boxes. They positively encourage you to take home any food that you can’t finish and given the amount that we were leaving on the platter, we were absolutely going to take them up on it – and we did need more than one.
Thank goodness we weren’t going anywhere else. For one thing, I was so stuffed I could barely move – and for another, I don’t know that we would have been able to get all those boxes under a theatre seat.