Posted on Tuesday, 17th February 2015
Photos and words by Food Porn Nation and I.
In the southern states of the USA, BBQ is king. Meat is treated with reverence and when barbequed, is done using special slow cooked techniques that generally last for 16-18 hours. The result is charred meat that is distinctively smoky and tender. Here in London, the restaurant group Porky’s seeks to capture the essence of Memphis style BBQ by adopting they same slow cooking BBQ approach. And as they do in the Deep South, portions are generous, prices are reasonable and flavours are bold. There is plenty of meat and Porky’s happily caters to the heartiest of carnivores.
The Camden Town branch of Porky’s (there are also branches at Bankside and Boxpark Bethnal Green) is low-key with its friendly, casual service. In a nod to its roots, there are classical Southern posters hanging on its exposed brick walls with Tennessee greats such as Elvis playing in the background. The lighting is soft and low for a relaxed ambiance, making it a great venue for groups.
The ‘warm up’ mixed platter (£24 – serves 4) included the house chilli and 4 other starter items. The highlight of the platter was the house chilli which was homey, spicy and delicious. The BBQ wings were a little overcooked, but tasty with a sticky homemade BBQ sauce. Our least favourite items were the crab cakes as there was not enough crab, and the hush puppies which were floury and starchy. We also tried the garlic toast which was very buttery.
The ‘ultimate’ Porky’s combo (£29) included a full portion of Memphis meaty ribs and tips, pulled pork, and half a BBQ chicken served with four hot links (sausages). The Memphis style ribs had been slow cooked for l6 hours, leaving the meat with a lovely smoky charred flavour. But it was also a tad dry and slightly burnt. The accompanying homemade BBQ sauce was gorgeous though and this did much to hide the pork’s over doneness with its smoky, sticky and sweet characteristics. We even asked for more it was that delicious! The half BBQ chicken similarly had the smoky and charred flavour profile of the ribs, but we would have enjoyed them more if they were moister. The pulled pork was unfortunately a little dry as well.
As if this wasn’t enough food, we also ordered sides of macaroni and cheese (£3.50) and sweet potato fries (£3.50). Both were tasty and nice additions to the meal, with the mac’n’cheese being warm and hearty, and the sweet potato fries being sweet, crispy and well seasoned.
A peanut butter and jelly cheesecake (£5.50) was rich and smooth. It tasted more of peanut butter than jelly, but was still a tasty dessert. Banoffee pie sundae (£5) was also delicious and filled with banana, cream and toffee. But it could have benefited from a crunchy texture such as biscuit pieces to make the dessert more complete and for an added contrast.
Porky’s is a good venue for those who like large portions of food, all of which can be washed down with cold American and local craft beers or a selection of cocktails. Doggy bags are at available to take any left overs home so never fear that any food will go to waste. The cooking wasn’t quite spot on as quite a lot of items were a bit dry and overcooked. But apart from the huge portions, the BBQ flavours are there, helped greatly by the fantastic BBQ sauce. Prices are reasonable too so Porky’s will hardly break the bank. Porky’s may not be the most perfect BBQ joint in the world but it offers certain things for certain diners.
1) Great value for money
2) Good BBQ sauce
3) Large portions
4) Fun ambiance
5) The chilli
6) Friendly and attentive service.
1) Overcooking of the meat which meant most meats were dry and lacking in moisture
2) Hush puppies which were starchy and bland
3) We wanted more crab in the crab cakes
Food rating: 3/5
BBQ sauce rating: 4.5/5
Service rating: 3.25/5
Prices: From £20 – £30 per person excluding drinks and service.
Platters from £24.00 – £29.00 to be shared among 4 people.