There is a little piece of London that will remain forever America. No, it’s not the US Embassy. It’s the award-winning Big Easy, which is an institution where you will be a lot more welcome, and staff are even polite!
This casual restaurant is modelled on those American Gulf Coast crabshacks. That might not mean much to most Londoners but let’s describe it as the cosiest of eateries with a real taste of Americana. It’s like the best of rib joints I have ever visited in the US, and although evidently themed the end result of that themeing is an authentic-feeling barbecue and seafood restaurant.
The walls and ceilings are black. That’s just like the rib restaurants I have visited, and I guess it originally had to do with the smoke from cooking the meat. Be assured it’s only paint here but it adds to the ambiance. The main decorations are the diners. The place is buzzing with mostly regulars, it seems. We met lots of fellow eaters who said it’s their favourite spot for ribs and shrimp.
Over 15 years ago, Paul Corrett opened will understand why. It’s an institution that’s about chilling as well as chewing. This isn’t fast food. You can get very speedy fried chicken along the road and one is never far from a quick plastic burger. This is food you will want to linger over. Order a beer or a margarita and peruse the menu.
Roasted Crisp Potato Skins were my choice for starter. Baked potato skins topped with sour cream and cheese were in reality stuffed baked potatoes. Surprisingly light but still a substantial start. I can recommend these. They had a garnish of well-dressed salad to enable me to feel at least a little noble.
My guest was taken by the “Voodoo” chicken wings. They were traditional Buffalo wings. Yes, I know that bison don’t fly; this preparation is said to hail from that northern city of Buffalo and consists of spicy wings served with celery and a blue cheese dip. These were piquant and finger-lickin!
Big Easy’s signature dishes include Maine lobster, crab and shrimp, Charolais beef burgers, smoked Bar-B-Q and Fajitas and we were tempted by all of these, but settled on just a couple. The steak fajitas were memorable. The fried peppers and onions formed a bed for the flavourful slices of beef and all served on a cast-iron sizzling platter. There were the usual accompaniments of fresh salsa, guacamole, lettuce, cheese and sour cream. One constructs one’s own meal by wrapping the above in some soft and warm flour tortillas. Yes, the majority of this came home with me on the bus.
I guess I had a hint that food is big here. I saw a few diners leaving with their leftovers, and those doggie bags were not bags at all but foil trays big enough to roast a chicken. Yes, the portions here are authentically American so come with an appetite. A couple with a baby and a 6-year-old were from across the pond, and they seemed to be frequent visitors to Big Easy, so that’s a bit of an accolade from folks who are famed for enjoying considerable platefuls.
Hickory Smoked Bar-B-Q Baby Back Ribs were always on the cards for my companion. He is a man of slight frame but blessed with hollow legs, but even he found the mound of beans, coleslaw and ribs too much. The ribs were glistening with the sauce, sticky and delicious with a good balance of sweet and sour. Savoury and jammy. A few of those ribs were also boxed.
We were, as expected, too full for dessert – we will return for that at a future date. But one needs something refreshing to end, so it was a couple of classic Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila Margaritas. OK, so they are cocktails and more usually consumed at the start of the meal, but a good cocktail is a good cocktail and one needs to keep a little space for that. Chilled and wafting one back to that holiday in Cancun; and none came home on the bus.
I am blessed: I can eat out as often as I want. Michelin Star restaurants are a joy, and I love excellent food of every kind but I had been looking forward to visiting Big Easy. It’s a long time since I had had a real American dinner and I hoped it would be as I remembered. If anything Big Easy outstripped my expectations. Just like General MacArthur I shall return, but with more friends to enjoy other delights from their menu, listen to some live music and unwind.
Sunday to Thursday 12 noon – 11pm
Friday & Saturdays 12 noon – 12.00 midnight
Big Easy Bar B.Q & Crabshack
332-334 Kings Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 5UR
Telephone 020 7352 4071
Visit Big Easy here
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018