June 24 2014

Pig Guide Review: Grillstock

Meat, music and mayhem: to Piggies of a certain, erm, refined persuasion (or even, dare I say it, age), such an equation may not constitute the recipe for tasteful success. But for those eager to take a walk on the wilder side of eating out once in a while (or if you’re a bloke who fancies a hot date with your bromance bros/a youngster fuelling up for a night on the town/a wannabe barbecue maestro who wants to know how it really should be done), then you’re in for a meaty treat indeed.

The Grillstock gang was established in 2010 by friends John Finch and Ben Merrington, who were initially inspired by a trip around the States that highlighted just how poor and lacklustre the UK version of the barbecue/smokehouse theme actually was. So they set about creating a festival to celebrate the very best of the flavours, vibe and general merrymaking mayhem that the origins of the sticky finger tradition was borne out of – and lo, the Grillstock Festival (Bristol and Manchester) was born.

Soon after, the duo made the logical transition to giving the Grillstock party a permanent home, with their original Bristol branch gaining legendary, iconic status from the moment it first opened its doors and a second swiftly following suit. In recent weeks, Grillstock has opened in Bath (in Brunel Square, SouthGate) to a similarly flurried warm welcome and a rather unexpected bout of unique publicity when their in-house smoker started doing it’s thang for the first time. A handful of weeks since the emergency services were called to rain on Grillstock’s smoky parade, and Bathonians are welcoming the scent of huge cuts of smoking meat wafting on the breeze with open arms and drooling expressions of outright lust. Well okay, perhaps – as we established at the start – such a recipe doesn’t work for everybody. And it certainly won’t work for you if you like your dining out experiences to start with an aperitif and finish with coffee and petits fours – neither such frilly fripperies are to be found here, in what’s ostensibly a lively, corrugated iron-lined shack based around a bustling open kitchen at the heart of which lies gleaming smoking ovens that cost more than the average mortgage down-payment. You won’t find a wine list here either, nor a classic starter/main course/dessert menu – in fact, there aren’t any desserts to be found anywhere in the house. But what you will find is meat and plenty of it, largely smoked and/or pulled, but sausaged, burgered and sandwiched too. There’s brisket, chicken and ribs in abundance, and hot dogs come naked, hogged (with pulled pork) and properly chilli-ed out. Heck, even the barbecue beans come topped with brisket! Vegetarian? You’ll have to make do with cornbread, ‘slaw and pickles I’m afraid – good job, then, that such sides are as tasty as the main event. Talking of which…

If you think of Mr Pig and I as the upside-down version of Jack and Mrs Sprat (me being the one who can’t quite get with chowing down on huge slabs of meat), then you can easily imagine how delighted He was at the prospect of a fuss-free meat feast. And so it came to pass that He opted for the full-on Smokehouse Special (three meats – in this case pulled pork, beef brisket and baby back ribs) with a mound of fries, a mountain of ‘slaw, hot link smoked sausage (just in case he wasn’t getting enough meat) and pickles for £18 – and did He love it? Yes indeed He did. I, meanwhile, was a picky piglet by comparison, opting for a chilli dog (£7.50, to include the same accompaniments as his choice) which I chose to sidecart with cornbread and barbecue beans just in case we weren’t getting enough carbs. We drank beer because there was no other option apart from softs, and for what’s probably the first and only time in my life, I didn’t miss my usual wine – could one really engineer a better tipple match for my superbly moist, smoky, top-quality chilli dog anyway? Our grub arrived on a tray moments after we’d placed our order, service throughout was super-friendly and we left (quite soon after we’d scoffed – the vibe isn’t, as you might have guessed, particularly conducive to a linger-long experience) with our bellies full, our tastebuds fully teased and our wallets satisfied that our blowout came at a very fair price indeed. And so between us both, you see, we licked our Grillstock platters clean. Yee-haw!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Categorised in: News