Saloons and the wild wild west have always intrigued me. I’ve often wondered how cool it would be time-travel back to the 19th century to see some real gunslingers do fiddly holster spinning tricks. Luckily, I didn’t have to source a pesky time-machine which might you believe, is difficult to come by.
When I heard about Red Dog Saloon, an authentic American restaurant specialising in BBQ and channelling chilled out Americana, I just had to check it out. It was a Sunday afternoon as I made my way to the restaurant nestled on Victoria Street in the heart of Nottingham.
It was cold with the menacing threat of rain. Up some steep steps we went where we were greeted by friendly smiles of the concierge. It was lovely and warm inside, with dark woods and cosy lighting adding to the convivial effect.
The Nottingham restaurant is Red Dog Saloon’s fourth branch and the first outside London. It’s good to see London based restaurants venture out and come further north to the Midlands (Nottingham is one of my favourite places in the whole wide world).
After looking on the double-sided menu, we ordered a few drinks. I had the Appleton Reserve, a smooth rum blend with peaty overtones good for immediate warming of cockles. My dining partner had Long Island Ice Tea, which was also very good (and one of the best cocktails I have tasted this year).
We started with spicy Korean chicken wings, moist bundles of deliciousness slathered in a sticky, spicy glaze. I’m not a chicken wing fan. I find them too spindly, fiddly and usually with less meat on them to warrant the effort of dirtying fingernails. Red Dog Saloon’s chicken wings were premium, think of them as being the Harrods of chicken wings, unlike your usual ahem, ‘finger lickin’ good’ variety.
For main, I had the chicken Bar-B-Q burger (hickory smoked chicken, slaw, house BBQ sauce). This was big, which of course kept me quiet for a few minutes. It’s not a fillet burger, more pieces of cut breast for manageable mouthfuls. I loved the smoked, hickory flavour, which gave a gorgeous earthy depth to the dish. The brioche bun was beautifully soft – my teeth sunk into it in seconds. This has to be one of the best burgers I have ever eaten. And just a note – this photo doesn’t do it justice. (I was close to singing Christina Aguilera’s ‘You Are Beautiful’ to my sandwich, but refrained as I didn’t want to freak my partner or restaurant out.)
My dining partner had the El Diablo burger (12 hour smoked brisket, southern style smoked sausage, jalapenos). This was another very generously sized burger, bursting out of the bun and packed with meaty goodness that you couldn’t help but gobble up. I am told the brisket was especially tender and perfectly seasoned.
Be prepared for some unladylike eating at Red Dog Saloon – the burgers are so darn delicious, you won’t be able to help yourself scarfing it down faster than you can say “Red Dog Saloon rocks!”
Sides of French fries, onion rings, and a southern smoked sausage were filling, tasty and moreish. The sausage was beautiful, smoky undertones in a gorgeous pork filling. I could happily eat this sausage all day and not get bored.
We didn’t have dessert (WHAT? Blasphemy I know!), as we were sort of Hulk-smash-stuffed. Just a teeny tiny point; the dessert menu could perhaps be diversified. Everything on it seemed cold, and I think the addition of a hot dessert (it was too cold out to eat a chilled dish) would probably have swayed me to indulge my sweet tooth.
With my growing fascination with rum, we did manage to taste some other rum though. The Diplomatico Reserva 12 year rum is a gorgeous sipping rum whose multifaceted flavours continue to excite the palate elongated seconds after swallowing. Dark chocolate, vanilla and fudge came through nicely, whilst fragrant fruit lingered on the palate. This is one of my favourite rums and one which has leapfrogged onto my ‘To Buy List for 2017’.
The Ron Zacapa 23 rum was good too, with hints of black pepper and a heavy dose of raisins. This is one intense drink, perfect with a cheese board or as a Christmas tipple.
I loved it at Red Dog Saloon Nottingham. For authentic American food that packs a Muhammed Ali punch in the flavour steaks (sorry, couldn’t resist), head over there stat. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Star Rating 1-10 (1: “I hate it. I’d rather eat my own shoe” – 10: “I love it. I’d sell my kidney for a meal here”.)
Value for money: 9
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Address: 20-22 Victoria St, Nottingham NG1 2EX
Tel: 020 3409 4803