Walk straight past the Hyatt Hotel on Broad Street, walking towards all the bars and restaurants and just before the action begins you’ll notice the rather dazzling graphic design of Rub Smokehouse in a glass window on your left.
Oozing the kind of character you might expect in a New York cultural hotspot, we were epically surprised when we got in the lift, yes lift, that took us straight into the main restaurant.
It was expansive and retro, but modern and light at the same time. On either side, full length glass windows showcase the impressive skyline of Birmingham you don’t always get to see from this angle.
The decor was sexy and loud, just the way we like it. With tall industrial lamps hanging from the ceiling and a mural on the backwall that was all kinds of Roy roy Lichtenstein meets 21st century vibrance. Clean lines, comfy bench seating and large tables for all, to fit the HUGE plates of food you get for quite breathtakingly good value.
The first thing though is the drinks. Enormous cocktail pitchers served in glorious fishbowls, micro barrels, bathtubs, model heads, you name it. A jaw droppingly creative and innovation selection to choose from that really shows the ethos the owners were going for.
Long has the 2nd city been hailed as the new food capital, with more michelin star restaurants than anywhere outside the capital, and a street food scene that goes all the way from the Taste of Birmingham to the Chilli fest, to our noble favourite DDC, Digbeth Dining Club.
The restaurant has too many dishes for me to chose from. It was nearly impossible. And as frustrating as this may well be, it certainly is not a bad thing. Not at all. I was eating with my partner who was vegetarian. It’s always an excellent test of a restaurant, to split that up a bit. And for a venue that prides itself on being like a Nirvana for carnivores, I’d say they do extremely well for veggies as well.
As my better half was driving she decided on a mocktail, aptly named, the Pear of the Dog! And to be quite honest, when tasting this explosion of tropical delight, I could not believe it didn’t contain alcohol. It really was divine. Made with pear syrup, apricot syrup and grapefruit juice it had enough sugar to give the sour notes a delicate sweetness and the apricot just lifted it reminding me of the tropical warmth you might expect from a Rum punch.
I had found my lunchtime companion too – a 12 year old El Dorado Rum, awarded the gold medal at the Caribbean Rum Taste Test (held annually in London) no fewer than seven times in the first 10 years in which the competition was held!
Now it has to be proclaimed, (you need a word that gospel to be honest), that Rub Smokehouse is a master at pulled pork, pulled chicken, well pulled anything. They have exciting names for their platters, such as Hung Drawn and Quartered, Epic Food, and getting their brand identity spot on, you can rub up your burger, or rub up your salad…very clever.
Their use of language is also enticing, explaining in detail of their ribs, chicken and pork are all rubbed with their secret spice blend and then cooked over Hickory at a low temperature for many hours, creating a pink tinge in the meat, similar to the colour of ham after curing. All of their meats are fully cooked overnight in the restaurants now famous smokers Hank n Marvin at a low temperature. The flavour and experience is served best warm, as Smokehouse food should never
be served piping hot.
I tried their beed brisket. It came on a large square shaped tray and the portion was absolutely huge. Very good value for money. I tasted the brisket and there was a melt in the mouth sensation with the sauce, smokey, rich and tender beef, but I couldn’t finish it, and some pieces were slightly hard as I imagine the skin would get quite crispy, a bit like how some of your crispy duck may go. But with such a generous portion there was more than enough for one person.
My partner went with the Big Foot Burrito, five tortillas glued together with cheese, filled with our mixed bean chilli, guacamole and sour cream, served with Nachos. She beat the Big Foot!
Brownie Heaven, the Rub sister company has now moved from Beverley to Birmingham so that all of their fantastic brownies are now baked on-site and are available to eat in or takeaway! There’s some great treats; Oreo, Jaffa, Blondie and a Scotch Egg brownie with a Creme Egg inside.
I would definitely give Rub Smokehouse a second, and probably third and fourth visit, the staff were extremely friendly and the epic selection of dishes was a true feast for the senses. However, it’s gonna mean some extra sessions at the gym as this is an Editor vs Food win to the food I’m afraid. But so it should be, and in their victory they have also found a new super fan.