I don’t know what took me so long to make a booking after hearing the best BBQ food duo this side of the Atlantic were opening shop in the newly restored pump house in none other than Barybados.
Many a summer I spent heading down to windswept promenade of the Island that isn’t actually an Island on the train with my speedos in towe with my mum and the rest of the clampets seeing all of my immediate female family members couldn’t drive. Kitted out in blue jelly sandals, i love barry island sun visor, fanny pack overflowing with copper, floss in one hand, steely eyed and hammering the coins in the 2p gamblers! A bag of chips, pebble dashed with gritty sand from the engulfing torrent weathered rock and then playing Russian roulette with your 8 year old life on the Log flume hoping the structure and slider would hold till you crashed into the pittiful pool below.
Sam and Shauna the girls behind the Hangfire brand that has now grown to cult status around the South Wales food scene and street food festivals have chosen Barry to be the first of their hopefully many BBQ joints. After a stint smoking their meat and selling along with their homemade rubs and sauces at an old butchers in Llantwit Major they are bringing their awesome grilled feasts to the masses to much anticipation amongst fans including myself who has followed them from pop ups at The Canadian, The Pillot and The Landsdowne that’s not including the Depot and Streetfood Circus spots.
I did leave it a bit late to book a seat at the eagerly awaited launch and managed to get in a few weeks later at the end of March and decided to take my little sister to open her eyes to some real grub instead of the chains she’s become acostomed to.
I was a bit disapointed my sister isn’t following in my footsteps with my relentless apetite for food as I wanted to sample a few of the starters to share but opted for the crispy pork rinds and frickles as I was going it alone on the starters.
Good crunch and very flavoursome were the pork crackling pieces. The portion wasn’t overly generous but then I knew what was coming and I had the deep fried pickled veg to chow down on before mains. The frickles were good although attempting a whole portion was near impossible and would suit a group to just pick on with a beer as opposed to a starter for one person. I was done after 2 or 3 but they were a lot more generous in portions on this plate and was sorry I had to leave a mound to waste.
Being a bit nomad following most of the pop up’s Hangfire had done over the past couple of years I’d slowly worked my way through a few of the centre pieces on the menu but One I hadn’t tried was the fried chicken, waffles and gravy so I opted for that for a change. My sister was going to go for a childs portion but I told her under no circumstances will you be ordering anything small on this visit and I would happily take a doggy bag home so it was the whole rack of ribs for her.
The size of the chicken portions were huge to be fair to them but I was a bit dissapointed in what lay before me in terms of taste, texture and general feel of the dish. The chicken drumsticks due to sheer size, probably twice as big as what I was used to from KFC must of taken some blistering in hot oil to cook right through and this was evident by the dryness of the meat. The breadcrumb exterior also fried to within an inch of it’s life was brittle in comparison to your usual fried chicken and with one bite most of it shattered and lay scattered in glasslike shards on my plate leaving me with bare chicken and dry chicken at that.
The waffle were quite thin but a pleasant contrast to the brittleness of the chicken breadcrumb. The gravy was moreish if only I had more than a double shot measure of the stuff to try and coat and moisten the chicken with. I can probably count the number of times i’ve left food on my plate on one hand and this was one of them. I wasn’t full I just couldn’t stomach the dry, brittle coated breadcrumb exterior of the chicken piece left in the bowl.
My sisters plate on the other hand did not dissapoint. I’d never seen a plate of ribs so big and after I gave her a little shake on the shoulder to wake her out of her stunned expression she tackled it bewilderinly not knowing where to start.
The rib meat was so tender no knife was needed to debone the rib a gentle pull left the ruby red and charred bark exposed to chomp on. She made a good effort but at 12 years old she was never going to finish it so I helped her finish the one half and grinned to myself knowing the other half was heading in a tupperware box to work with me in the morning.
Neither of us were too keen on the desserts on offer so I finished my neck oil craft beer, payed up and we left to sit in the car for 5 minutes huffing and puffing before I could move enough to maneouvre out of the car park from all the meat i’d consumed.
A nice litte selection of nibbles to start with for people who hadn’t sampled what the Hangfire girls have to offer and would be good to order quite a few to share amongst a group it was just my own fault I came in towe with a 12 year old girl with a small appetite.
The chicken was a bit of a let down. I have no doubt the quality of the meat they sourced is the best you could get your grubby hands on but the size, which wouldn’t be an issue in say a casserole or slow cooking but for frying it was too big and led to a dry sorry pile of meat. The breadcrumb coating might also have been a bit more palatable had it not been scorched in oil for so long.
The ribs though were perfect. Expertly seasoned in dry rub and left to smother it in your own measure of homemade bbq sauce of choice at your table, my sister will find it hard finding another plate of ribs to rival it at such a young age.