Smoke Barbecue, Glasgow City Centre

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I’m still trying to sort our the calorie collection of London, but I wanted to squeeze this little review of Glasgow’s newest American attempt – Smoke Barbecue. Not to be confused with Smoak.

See, there’s just so many similar places in terms of menus, food, style and even names around it’s hard to keep up! Like the burger craze, barbecue is certainly not an untapped market in Glasgow. But barbecue is delicious none the less, so I was interested to see what Smoke can bring to the table.

Smoke has two other locations within Sheffield and Leeds and the Glasgow spot just opened on April 11th. Appearance wise, the space they have is excellent. Corner spot, just off Buchanan Street- massive high ceilings and a great big sign… but then then upon a closer look at its massive windows you see wooden pallets.

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Wooden pallets to sit on. No. No. No. It definitely gives the place a cheap feel, along with the Ikea paper lanterns in a net… which doesn’t feel very barbecue at all. Apologies for some of these photos.

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The mister and I went on day three of their opening week at around 6:00pm; it was relatively empty. The first thing I noticed was that the place didn’t have a strong smell of food, smoke or any sort of grilled meat. That is not what I expect from a barbecue business, especially one with an open kitchen.

Smoked meats are usually done low and slow, which means whatever they are serving tonight should’ve been stinking up the place all day.

We were sat right next to their open kitchen ‘Barbecue Pit’ which looked unused and to be honest – a little sad. On Smoke’s website it mentions they were inspired by a place in Austin, Texas to get started (I’m thinking The Saltlick).

Now let’s compare the Smoke pit to the Saltlick pit.

 

Aw, isn’t that cute?

All drinks come served in a mason jar styled glass- which I think still can be kind of fun, but is mostly played out by this point. Especially if the beverage doesn’t fit the full glass. Mason jars tend to suit lemonade and cocktails a bit more.

 

 

Now, let’s get down to the food. The whole load of it.

When the tray came out, I think I genuinely gasped because I was so shocked at how big the portions were – very generous for the price. And, if you don’t finish they will give you a doggie bag.

Trust me, you’ll need it.

The mister ordered the brisket plate and a side of beans, plus it comes with fries and a little patty that tasted like a hushpuppy. I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of it was, I don’t think it enhanced any aspect of the tray.

The brisket itself was quite dry, which was disappointing. Still edible, but you really needed to chew at some parts. However, the burnt ends were delicious. Good amount of char and a very sticky sauce. You can order the ends alone or add them to your order, which is a nice touch.

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The sauce options were not to our liking. The sauce that comes with the brisket is very similar to The Saltlick’s, which I think might be what they are going for. Personally though, this type of sauce just isn’t for me. It’s thin, a bit too sweet, but also has a strong amount of cumin seasoning. Smoke’s own brand of sauce was basically dark treacle. Far too sweet for meat and chicken, it was borderline ice cream topping.

However, it seems like the Smoke sauce is used for the burnt ends. Something about the preparation changes the sweetness and texture of the sauce. It becomes even thicker, less sugary, and creates a good shiny coat.

I opted for the chicken with macaroni and cheese, plus the fries. Now, when a barbecue place offers smoked turkey or chicken I always get it. It’s not as common and I think it is utterly delicious. You can (or should) get such a clear smoky flavor on poultry.

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The chicken itself had no smoky taste. It was large, a full half, and it tasted fine- it was moist, but it was basically just chicken. Outside of the skin, no real seasoning got through. Because it was on the bone I really struggled to cut the chicken without my tray spinning all over the place. And as messy as Smoke stresses they want you to get… I’m not sure how appropriate it is to hold a half chicken up to my face and start munching away. At least not in public…

Side wise, the beans had a nice jalapeño kick, but were undercooked. The macaroni and cheese desperately needed salt and pepper. I love stodge, but I didn’t really detect a ‘roux’ sauce in there. I think they just melted a lot of cheese over pasta.

BUT… Wait for it… the fries were my favorite thing. In fact, their fries might be some of the best I’ve had in Glasgow.  I’m not sure what they do, if it’s just a double fry… but the coloring and texture just reminded me of back home. Really good flavor and crisp – they definitely nailed the potato. Skin on.

I ate the whole goddamn fry mountain.

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I felt like such a slob after dinner, I couldn’t even wash it all away with the little lemon wet wipe they give you.

It’s not a fully impressive effort, but not all bad. They need to work on the details and fine tune their method. Maybe head back to Austin. The Glasgow site is extremely new, so maybe they just need a little time to settle in. 

I’m a little tough on barbecue as a Texan, so I’ll cut them a little slack.

I think the city will welcome them. And me,  I’ll be back for the fries at some point.

Oh, the fries.

 

xx

 

Smoke Barbecue

2 West Regent Street, Glasgow, G2 1RW

 

 

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Byron Hamburgers, Glasgow City Centre

Well, kids. I’m headed off to London soon for a few days to explore the city and gain some weight.

It’ll be my first time there outside of Heathrow Airport, sans a less than 24 hour trip for some job training where I had just enough time to quickly scarf a cupcake down from Primrose Bakery then head back home.

So, I’m looking forward to exploring all the variety that apparently London has to offer. I’ll definitely be updating the ole instagram and this here blog with my adventures.

Anyway, the main reason me and the Mister go anywhere is to try the food. It turns out we now don’t have to travel far to taste London’s take on American burgers, as the  London-based chain Byron Hamburgers has recently opened up in the city centre.

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So, for those of you not based in Glasgow… the city has become overpopulated with big sloppy burger and BBQ joints. A typical burger will be about 2 inches thick, the patty all overdone, shriveled and overcast by the bun – stacked with various types of pork and/or dairy. It’s a bit much and I just want a bit of variety to choose from… so initially when I saw that yet ANOTHER burger joint was opening up, I huffed and paid it no attention.

While under construction we were watching some show on tv (sorry, cannot remember!) that talked about Byron and how they will cook your burger medium/medium rare for you, which intrigued the Mister. We vowed to give it a shot when it opened and we stayed true to our word.

We went around 4:30pm on a Saturday and it was pretty quiet, so we got our pick of seats. There’s plenty of space for when it might get crowded, pretty minimal decor, but it works.

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Byron claims to make ‘Proper Hamburgers’ – trying to keep things simple and reminiscent of a burger joint based in Rhode Island the owner fell in love with. The menu below is pretty simple, but I can appreciate that. I believe they do a special burger to keep things interesting for the durty burger lovers out there. Plus, if you get it they provide a school meal for children in need as part of the one feeds two charity. Bonus!



We opted for the Bunzilla… because one, the title. And two, miso bacon? Oft. And the chili burger with just normal fries. The server or menu didn’t mention cooking the burger to medium or however we want and we were simply too meek and hungry to ask.

When the burgers came out I was a little surprised at the size. In comparison to other burger chains it seemed a bit on the smaller side given the price they are charging. The Bunzilla burger was excellent though and we both enjoyed every element of it… especially that miso bacon. But at almost £11… it definitely felt like London prices.

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The chili burger wasn’t spicy at all. I think I’ve got a decent ability for heat tolerance and this burger was pretty mild. There was something a bit artificial tasting about the chipotle mayo, but not enough to stop me from eating the burger. Just odd enough to stop me enjoying it to the max. I added some of their house Bryon Hot Sauce – which was similar to Cholula, a bit weaker.

The fries were just normal and a little on the undercooked side for me. Nothing special and I would say, probably not a necessity. We ordered it with a side of homemade aioli and I wish we hadn’t. Again, a really artificial taste in the dip. It must just be the mayo they use there? It was also really buttery – think the garlic dipping sauce you get at Papa Johns.

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The quality of meat was really decent. I didn’t find the burger patty too thick (I prefer thin) it was cooked fine – juicy, but not too greasy. The bread buns were really soft, pillow soft. I’ll definitely be going back because they do a 4 scoop ice cream milkshake that I should have ordered instead of fries.

So, I can’t complain too much. My first experience of the chain ran pretty smooth. It was quiet, the staff was friendly, I got a good burger and my tummy left happy. Even though I mentioned the burgers being smaller compared to other chains, I was content enough to where a dessert would have taken me over the comfortable edge. I just want my money’s worth…

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xx

Byron Hamburgers

1QL, 100 W George St, Glasgow, Glasgow City G2

Sweet Almond Buns

To get me through the work week, I often have a ‘Fancy Friday’ which usually includes me paying £3.00 for a coffee instead of settling for instant sludge and getting a little sweet breakfast treat.

Now, I absolutely adore cinnamon buns, but proper cinnamon buns are scarce here. Oh, the horror!

It still breaks my heart, but I’ve learned to cope using croissants as a crutch – chocolate or almond. It’s usually some much needed warm flakey goodness that helps bring on that weekend feeling.

I know I’m going the long way about this recipe, but since the cinnamon bun has yet to receive the fandom it deserves I’ve taken to baking them when the craving sets in.

I’m an autumn/winter girl and right now I’m struggling to let go of cozy jumpers and hot hearty meals. And sadly, cinnamon is a strong reminder of my favorite time of year. I want to attack spring full on, so I decided to fuse my love of the bun (boom tish) with a little almond.

Almond is sweet, but a delicate flavor- pastel yellow, soft dough… this recipe is a  perfect addition for all your breakfast or brunch needs.

 

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Sweet Almond Buns

You can easily use this sweet dough as a base for various bun and roll recipes. It’s very flexible to flours and flavorings! I like my rolls a little breadier, but if you’re out of bread flour or prefer something a bit softer feel free to use all plain flour instead.

Ingredients:

Sweet Dough

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons of dry active yeast (usually 1 packet or 7 grams)
  • 1/2 cup your preferred choice of milk (I used skim)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, plus more for brushing dough
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond (I used almond for this recipe, obviously!)
  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 2 1/2 white bread flour

Optional: Depending on what you’re making you might want to add cinnamon, nutmeg, clove etc to the dough. I sprinkled in about 3/4 a teaspoon of cinnamon for added fun to the Sweet Almond Buns. I told you I’m having a hard time letting go.

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Almond Filling

  • 9 ounces or 250 g of marzipan
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/3 crushed almond slices, plus more for topping
  • 1 teaspoon of almond extract or if you have it a good slug of amaretto

Sugar Syrup/Topping

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 x 1/3 cups water
  • 1/3 sliced almonds
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling

 

Instructions

Basic Sweet Dough:

  1. Combine milk and water;  heat in a saucepan or microwave liquid until warm (about 100 to 110 degrees F), then pour yeast in and give one quick swirl. Let yeast sit for 5-10 minutes until mix is foamy.
  2. Add to the yeast mixture, melted butter, egg, and extract of your choice.
  3. In a separate large bowl mix together flours, salt, sugar and any spices if using them.
  4. Make sure yeast mixture is in a large mixing bowl then add flour mixture in one cup at a time. Mixing in-between each cup of flour until it is fully incorporated into the yeast mix. I used a stand mixer for this with a dough hook attachment, but if you do not have this available you can always work with your hands. It’s a mess, but good for stress relief!
  5. Using your dough hook or hands make sure dough is kneaded for 7-10 minutes. Your looking for it to be only slightly stick to the touch. Roll dough into a ball.
  6. Place dough ball in a lightly buttered or oiled large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set a tea towel on top of this and place dough somewhere warm/room temperature and dark. Let the dough prove until it doubles in size. This will usually take about 1.5 hours.
  7. Once dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for one minute. If making overnight buns, wrap in plastic wrap and store in fridge at this point. Before using the next day, make sure it gets to room temperature before next step.
  8. Use a rolling pin to get dough into a rectangle shape.
  9. Melt down about 2 tablespoons of butter and brush this onto the dough until all of it is covered. Make sure not to put too much, you’re just looking for a thin coat of butter. Now you’re ready for the filling!

 

Almond Filling:

  1. Using either a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer- mix together all ingredients, except almonds until relatively smooth. Mixture will be a little gritty due to the texture of marzipan. Mix for about 5-7 minutes. Then sprinkle almond slices in and using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula mix until almonds are fully incorporated.
  2. When dough is ready – pour mixture into the middle of dough rectangle then spread mix out until mix is even over dough. Leave a margin of about .5 to 1 inch border uncovered with almond paste.
  3. You are now ready to roll the dough! Start rolling dough tightly from the long length side until you have a fully rolled log. Then cut into slices, depending on how big/thick you want the buns to be. Mine were about 2- 3 inches, but I tend to make some small and some larger.
  4. Once cut, place buns on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set plastic wrap/tea towel on top of dough and leave for another 30 minutes to prove before baking. Preheat over to 350F or 176C.

Please note this process is a bit messy, at least it was for me. I had marzipan squishing out everywhere, but you need to make sure the roll is tight enough to keep it’s shape- just be careful you do not squish all the filling out, as I found there was a bit of leakage during baking anyway.

Baking/Sugar Syrup:

  1. Heat water and sugar in a small saucepan until all sugar is dissolved.
  2. Using a pastry brush, brush syrup on the tops and sides of double proved buns.
  3. Sprinkled sliced almonds on top of buns.
  4. Put buns in the oven to bake until golden brown. Depending on your oven this should take about 25-35 minutes. I let mine cook for 22 minutes then check every 3 minutes or so until they look nice and golden.

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DSC_3957Ta Da!

Once baked and cooled then sprinkle with powdered sugar for a more polished look. Or you can have them plain if you prefer.

Get the coffee on and enjoy!

 

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xx

 

 

 

 

Start Spring with Gin.

So, this is basically springtime in Glasgow.

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And while, I can appreciate how adorable red wellies can be… What you’re missing out on is all the crazy diagonal rain slicing at your cheeks, bits of hail going on and off and strong gusts of humid wind that makes you sweat underneath all the layers of rain protection.

And this will continue for the next few months. Yay…

But, even slightly warmer weather means that spring has arrived and gin definitely seems like a good way to start the season.

So a wee while ago, I saw a deal via itison for a ticket to a gin festival, which was meant to include six samples of gin, unlimited tonic/mixers and fruits and less interesting some ‘local’ entertainment and guest speakers all for £24. Seemed quite reasonable, especially since it’s normally £40.

So the company hosting is Times Like These – who I’ve never heard of and to be honest couldn’t and still can’t really find information on. Their website looks a little dodgy as I think they are very new to this. Still, I pitched the idea to a pal and we thought, well it’s in town and there’s gin. It can’t be too bad.

And luckily it wasn’t…
More Gin Ahead!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies

 

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Okay, let’s start out easy.

Cookies are my absolute favorite treat. It’s a bit of a bonus that they are usually easy to whip up mid-week. Plus, we’re using box cake mix (no apologies). Even easier.

So, who doesn’t love red velvet?  Great color and cream cheese frosting. Red velvet is probably the sexiest cake going around, but for me it’s a struggle. Despite all of my ten years in the UK, I’ve not been able to nail down a cream cheese frosting that isn’t completely liquid. (A topic to come back to.) So, this idea works for me because the cream cheese frosting is essentially baked inside the cookie.

I used Two Peas and Their Pod recipe and while I found it very delicious, it was quite oily. There is a resting period for the dough and I just felt that instead of melding together all the oil was seeping out. Very messy, but on the plus side moisturizing for the hands.

I’ve adapted the recipe a tiny bit, but purely for less oil and more sweetness. It’s a great shout for a low maintenance and rich dessert.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies 

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod, makes 11-14 cookies

 

Cookies:

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Middle:

  • 4oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

I would say you can use light cream cheese for this recipe, but I always avoid ‘the lightest’ cream cheese when baking. And of course, you can never go wrong with full fat.

Drizzle:

1 1/2 cups of melted white chocolate (chips or bar)

Directions:

  1. For the cookies: Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add all wet ingredients and mix again! Make sure mix really comes together. You want it shiny and smooth. Wrap dough up in cling film and refrigerate for 1.5 to 2 hours.
  2. For the cream cheese middle: Combine all ingredients very well – So either use an electric mixer or whisk the hell out of it. No lumps. On a baking sheet or plate lined with parchment, scoop or drizzle (mine was quite liquidy, but it froze fine) cream cheese filling into 11-14 balls. This will depend on how much cream cheese you want in the middle of each cookie. Freeze cream cheese discs for at least one hour.
  3. Baking and Assembly: Line baking sheet with parchment paper, preheat oven to 350F or 177C. After all ingredients have chilled, scoop out about 1/4 cup of the cookie dough. Flatten as much as possible, then place the frozen cream cheese in the middle of the cookies.  Wrap dough completely around the frozen cream cheese so that that it is no longer visible. This is key, as you do not want leakage so add more dough if necessary.

Now, these cookies are large and they do spread out. Keep this in mind when baking in accordance to the size sheet you are using. Four cookies per sheet worked well for me. Bake for 11-13 minutes. The cookies will still feel quite soft when you  remove them from the oven, but they will stiffen up. Leave them on the baking sheet  for a couple of minutes then move them on over to a cooling rack.

Once cookies are completely cool, it’s time for the chocolate drizzle. You can use the double-boiler method, but this is an easy recipe so for me – Microwave it is. Break your chocolate up into shards or pour chips into a microwave safe bowl and heat up in 5 second increments until fully melted. Then drizzle cookies and let the chocolate set.

And then finally… you can eat one!

I kept these cookies in the fridge because of the baked cream cheese. I wouldn’t really leave them out for more than 45 minutes. I found that the longer the cookies were left at room temperature the more oil came out and the cream cheese middle started to sag and disconnect from the rest of the cookie.

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So, there you have it. Easy mid-week luxury… mainly from a box.

Enjoy.

x