Holy Smoke: Red's True Barbecue Review | GIFTED

My food and drink at Red's True Barbecue were provided in exchange for honest review.

My sister has raved over Red's True Barbecue many times, but it never seemed like my kind of place. I tend to choose carb based dishes instead of meaty meals, so I was intrigued to read that Red's were launching some lighter plant based and fish options, making the menu inclusive for vegans, veggies, pescatarians, and religious diets alike.

The new discoveries, as I learned on my trip to the Manchester branch, are the findings of an annual trip the team makes to America, to taste what's new on the barbecue circuit and even compete themselves. Their passion even helped them to earn the title of 1st place outside the US!


Atmosphere
Stepping into the restaurant, I definitely noticed that it's a casual, fun place to eat. The interior is dark and industrial, with wall features made of neon lights. The table we were seated at was part of a spacious room off the main dining area, so despite being dark, it didn't feel cramped or unpleasant, it just made for a different experience.

Although the vibe is casual, the service wasn't rushed or half hearted. Every member of the team was excited to talk to us, and the servers were polite, friendly, and happy to tell us their own favourites.


Drinks
I may be teetotal but it's still nice to have a 'treat' drink when I'm out, and the mocktails at Red's left me spoilt for choice. I tried their Berry Mojito and Hawai-Tai, which combined red bull with passionfruit syrup, and both were fruity, sugary, and utterly delicious.

If you like your drinks with a kick, there are boozy malt shakes or an extensive range of cocktails, including a black cherry slushie for an adult twist on a childhood favourite.

Starters
Before my visit, I had never considered myself a rib person. They're usually just too much faff for such little meat, but the ribs at Red's were actually my favourite starter! Thanks to the low, slow smoking the bone just slid straight out and the fat was soft and melty, not chewy.

The same applied to the pork belly, something I usually avoid, but the honey glazed crackling was surprisingly good, and I especially liked the crunchy mixed slaw served alongside it. It was lightly dressed with balsamic vinegar rather than mayonnaise, allowing it to cut through the richness of the pork.

Veggies can tuck into garlic mushrooms on toast or jackfruit nuggets for their starters. The toast with was soggy and spongy so I didn't enjoy that, but I was super excited to try the popcorn. I've never had jackfruit before so figured that a restaurant that knows their barbecue would be the best place to taste it, and Red's didn't let me down.

Rather than being pulled to emulate pork, chunks of jackfruit are baked then coated in a light, seasoned batter, and served with a zingy roasted red pepper and tomato dip that complemented it perfectly.


Mains
The new mains cater for everyone, with grilled salmon and an Alabama fish sandwich, a superfood plate and meat-free tray, and Memphis pork belly served with bacon and garlic kale to mention just a few.

My favourite from the selection I tried has to be the new Moving Mountains vegan burger, which you can add pulled jackfruit to. I'd heard great things about this soy based burger and it met my expectations. The patty had a true barbecue burger taste, and the inside was juicy while the outside had crisped up to deliver a good mix of textures in every bite. I also felt it was lighter on the stomach than your average burger. 

The new sides offer lighter options too, with charred broccoli and baby gem lettuce with chimichurri joining the line up alongside barbecue treats like pit beans and fries topped with pulled pork and chipotle cream. Personally I felt these sides just made the meal too meat heavy so it was great to have fresh and flavourful vegetables instead.

Overall
The menu is large and varied, but the dishes are developed by true barbecue lovers rather than churned out by a chain.  Too often the token veggie dish is a boring bean burger, but times are changing, and in my opinion the plant based dishes at Red's True Barbecue were the best of the bunch. They were not an afterthought, but well considered dishes that would satisfy anybody, whether you're a full time veggie, flexitarian, or just fancy something new. 

Which dishes would you choose?


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