Familiar with the phrase “Go big or go home“? Big Easy embodies this. I hit the Covent Garden branch, set inside the former electrical power station that used to power the bright lights of the West End, for dinner last week.
Big Easy Bar.B.Q and Crabshack is so American – so Texan, in fact – with supersized portions of fresh-smoked barbecue and sea food, washed down with plenty of bourbon. The bar is impressively stocked, boasting over 500 bottles on nine levels, with a whiskey focus.
Discovering they served Four Roses bourbon Old Fashioneds on tap (£8.50) was the first gold star for me – it tasted damn good, and cutting out the never-ending stirring step in favour of the ‘on tap’ version meant my liquor reached the table that much faster.
The spacious interior honours the building’s heritage, maintaining original brickwork, steel girders and concrete, and adding huge industrial pendant lights, huge hanging sheriff-style stars, neon lobster lights and tonnes of Americana.
In the kitchen, there are a couple of massive Argentinean-style charcoal grills, rotisserie spits large enough for whole hogs and a gigantic wood burning oven, plus a dedicated barbecue pit housing two 1.5 tonne smokers imported from Texas (complete with oak, hickory, apple and cherry woods for smoking). Since Big Easy puts a focus on crustaceans too, there’s also a specially designed lobster tank that can house almost 2000 live 10lbs lobsters. I did tell you this place was larger than life!
And the menu really is all about meat and lobster – fine cuts, rare-breed steaks and fresh seafood. Richard’s questionably named Taste-O-Rama! platter (£22) featured pit-smoked BBQ chicken, dry rubbed St Louis pork ribs, Carolina pulled pork, Texas sliced slow-smoked brisket, BBQ pit-smoked beans and slaw. It was certainly meat-sweat-inducing stuff.
We’d lined our stomachs with some excellent Voodoo chicken wings (£9) and deep fried Pickle Chips (£6.50), so after our massively meaty mains, there was sadly no room for pudding – the baked cheesecake, Red Velvet, and “Boozy Soft Serve” (with a double measure of Tennessee bourbon in every serving!) will have to wait till next time.
In the Quality vs Quantity debate, Big Easy is managing to win on both fronts. Portion size could certainly be cut by about a third – and the prices with it – but the quality is there. In a relaxed, loud and vibrant setting, these guys are going big all round – and diners’ waistbands are likely to do the same!
Two-course dinner for two including service but not drinks is around £75.
12 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2E 7NA