Friday, 9 January 2015

Restaurant Review: Longhorns Barbecue Smokehouse, Newcastle upon Tyne

It all went a bit smoky in Newcastle in 2014. First there was Hop and Cleaver, then Bierrex, and latterly Longhorns opened, all bringing their take on American-style low-and-slow smoked meats to these parts. We thought Hop and Cleaver was a bit meh and haven't yet made it to Bierrex. However, I had a sample of Longhorn's brisket at the really quite good Craft Beer Calling festival back in October and resolved to head their way once they opened on Mosley St. Granted, I was extremely well refreshed at the time, but even in my drunken fug I could detect some serious smoke and flavour in their meat.

As it happens, I was no picture of sobriety when we ate at Longhorns in December, fresh from a staff do. Still, what the hell; this is the kind of food that's meant to appeal after a couple of quenching libations, so you ought to trust in the following words more, not less, as I had properly prepared myself for the meal. See how much effort I put into doing things right?

It was heaving when we arrived at about 6 on a Saturday night and it looked like we might be in for a wait (no reservations, natch), but the two of us were seated before we'd even ordered booze. If there's a group of you, you might want to come at a quieter time. The menu is a pretty simple affair (natch again); two meats and two sides for a tenner being an easy choice to make. They do "challenges" but I trust you're neither an idiot nor a masochist, so we don't need to talk about those. The interior is a riot of wood and barrels with the seating upstairs consisting of sturdy raised benches and stools. Fine. The short wait before the food turned up was spent accompanied by a pint of Wylam Jakehead IPA. That is some pretty great stuff, a properly citrussy/hoppy blast of beer, with a moreish bitterness going through it.

 L-R Spicy Sausage, Hog Rind, Memphis Hog Butt, Pit Beans
The food arrived (Don't know why I said that. Of course the bloody food arrived. When does it not?)
and all was well. The sausage, a loosely textured affair, was delicious. The smokiness was well judged, but garlic was the overriding flavour. "Hog butt", a sort of semi-pulled pork, had less inherent flavour and so was more of a vehicle for the smoke. The hog rind will divide a crowd. If you're the type for whom chewing for a considerable time on un-crisped pig skin and fat sounds like no fun, I'd avoid it. I'm on the other team. Pit beans were flat-out mental, tasting not so much of smoke but of ash. I know the sentence "like licking out an ashtray, but in a good way" doesn't compute, but that's all I've got.

L-R, Brisket, Fries, Wings, Slaw
Kasia's board was pretty much a winner too. I'd have preferred the brisket to arrive as a slab rather than shreds, but on the up-side there were lots of tasty blackened bits. Fries were good, slaw was ok and the wings were really nice. Whatever cooking processes they'd been subjected to had rendered them juicy, sticky, smoky and delicious. Sauce- there was a bottle of something called "Hey Zous" on our table. It did the job admirably, with sweet and tang both present and correct.

Salted Caramel Brownie, Key Lime Pie lurking behind
There were two desserts available, so we ordered one of each. The brownie was jaw-achingly sweet and so hit the spot. The lime pie was less good, lacking zing and having on oddly gummy texture.

Service was fast, efficient and friendly and the whole operation was performed by people who seemed to know what they were up to. We spoke briefly to one of the staff who was managing the seating, who, having worked in catering for years, said he'd never seen as much demand on opening. The music was an appropriate and enjoyable mix of Americana. If I remember rightly they played Neil Young's Expecting to Fly, and you can't say better than that.

I've never eaten "proper" American barbecue (that's a noun, not a verb), and, having read Michael Pollan's superb book Cooked, there's clearly some debate about what that even is. What I can tell you is that Longhorns are knocking out some really tasty meats for, crucially I think, a moderate price, and are deserving of your custom. The "dream board" probably consists of the sausage, brisket, fries and beans which is well worth a tenner of anyone's hard-earned. Especially, and even more so, after about four pints.


Longhorns, 10 Mosley St, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1DE



  1. Sounds like you really enjoyed it but I just don't think it's going to be my kind of place, it all looks a bit like the type of grub I'd rustle up on a camping trip but maybe that's more to do with how it's served. Call me old fashioned like but I like to eat off a plate using a knife and fork! Yours is the second positive review I've read this week though and it's only a stones throw from my office so I'm sure I'll end up trying it out (and being proved wrong!) at some point in the near future.

  2. Hi Rachel. Horses for courses I spose. I'm happy enough to lay into this kind of stuff with my hands. You need to, as the cutlery is plywood. I went through about three forks. Ps, see that you invite me on your next camping trip!

  3. Ha Ha, my hot dog parties are legendary! ;)

  4. Hey love your images and some really well thought out food here - nice!


All comments gratefully received. Sorry about the word verification thing, but I've started getting bombed by spam.

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