I guess the name says it all. BBQ is what Porky’s offers, but this is the real thing rather than the chain variety, which has more to do with fast food; the traditional (Memphis) barbecue on which Porky’s is modelled is rather on the slow side …like 18 hours slow.
Joy and Simon Brigg were inspired to open Porky’s (there are now two restaurants) after road trips around America. They opened the first Porky in Camden and now there is a new restaurant at Bankside, and that’s the one we visited for lunch. It’s tucked down a side street but easy to find. It’s almost opposite Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and just a few yards from the River Thames and the imposing Tate Modern art gallery.
Porky’s isn’t over-themed. Simon explained that when they moved in there were just the bare walls, which they have chosen to keep as natural brick. This gave the team a blank canvas on which to work. The design is simple and open, with an impressive bar at the entrance – the chunky railway sleepers add character and rustic charm. There are graphics that give a nod to the US and the music fits the style. But there is nothing OTT. The illuminated pig is whimsical but the food is serious.
BBQ Wings in a rich and tangy BBQ sauce was my starter and it hinted at the copious plates that awaited. My advice would be: prepare to tuck the napkin under your chin (note to smart office workers in those crisp light-blue shirts) and don’t have breakfast before you come to lunch …in fact don’t have breakfast or lunch before coming to dinner. Yes, large portions, but thankfully large portions of rather good-quality meat.
It’s not only meat on the menu though. My companion enjoyed some hearty crab cakes, and there were cheesy corn hush puppies on offer but I am saving those for the next visit. Porky’s is just the kind of casual restaurant that demands a second visit. One will notice dishes served on other tables and will pencil in a try of those on one’s return.
My main was the 18-hour smoked pulled pork. The whopping serving of shredded meat was presented with a slightly sweet brioche bun. The pork still retained its natural flavour although the diner has the option of adding the table sauces – BBQ or a vinegar mop which was tart and, to my mind, an ideal condiment.
My companion ordered the Memphis Ribs and Tips with BBQ sauce, for which Porky’s has become justifiably celebrated. Now, dear peckish reader, these are not the ribs with which you are likely familiar. These are substantial and meaty. My usually-hollow-legged fellow diner was unable to finish his plate even though he pronounced that these were the most remarkable ribs he had ever tried, on either side of the Pond.
The striking bar that you doubtless noticed on your way in offers a good selection of Porky’s bespoke cocktails as well as American beers and spirits. If you don’t fancy any of the drink menu suggestions then the bar master will fix you a classic cocktail. There is also root beer to which I am addicted, although I admit that it’s something of an acquired taste. Porky’s Iced Tea does indeed contain tea …and lots of alcohol, so don’t order this for your Aunty Lil who is dying for a cuppa.
Porky’s Bankside offers great food and lots of it. The ambiance is casual. The location is iconic. In short Porky’s ticks boxes for quality, for fun and for friendly. I will return to graze anew and I might try a burger next time …with just a little pile of pulled pork on top.
Porky’s BBQ Bankside
18 New Globe Walk
Phone: 020 8127 5120
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018