I still have a photo on my phone of the best barbequed meat I have ever had: a platter of slow-cooked pork, brisket and ribs at a bar in Philadelphia. The photo is three years old, yet I can’t bring myself to delete it; I’m reminded of the flavour and the melt-in-the-mouth deliciousness every time I look at it. You will frequently find good quality slow-cooked barbequed meats at bars in the USA. The Sebright Arms in Bethnal Green has launched a new menu, which pays homage to such American classics: burgers, buns, sides and slaw.
The Sebright Arms is an old fashioned British boozer, the smell and the décor instantly makes any regular pub goer feel at home. The menu is small with just five buns and a burger, and a range of sides. I like a menu that has few options, when done very well. Between us we ordered the pulled pork burger, the bacon cheeseburger, triple-cooked chips, onion rings, slaw and a portion of buttermilk fried chicken. Quite a combination and basically a few burgers short of the entire menu. Served on a cafeteria tray, visually it ticked all the boxes.
In a brioche bun, with chipotle mayo, BBQ mustard and slaw, was moist and flavoursome hickory pulled pork, which had been slow-cooked to perfection for 12 hours. A few moments silence was needed to savour the flavour, it was that good. The cheeseburger was exactly how a good quality burger should be, no pretentiousness needed: just cheese, ketchup, mustard, bacon and gherkins. The juicy medium-rare aged beef patty easily rivals the ‘best’ burgers in London.
The star of the sides was the onion rings, which were fried in panko breadcrumbs, offering that all important crunch. The slaw was fresh and tasty, and teamed well with the meaty burgers. The fried chicken strips were succulent, which can be difficult with meat that’s not on the bone. The only small issue is that the chicken batter needed more of a crunch but the buttermilk batter was still tasty. All the sides were grease-free, ensuring that neither of us felt too guilty afterwards, we walked out very full but with no regrets. In fact, we ate every last bite.
By the time we had regained our senses, the pub was packed and burgers were flying out of the kitchen at an impressive rate. After a chat with the owner, we learned that the meat is slow-cooked in specialist smoking ovens which were imported from America, and the ingredients are all locally sourced. The experimental menu is devised by a committee, and some new ideas will be revealed soon (he mentioned ‘top secret’ chips- we asked for some hints but no luck).
Bunsmiths at the Sebright Arms is a hidden gem of a place. We will definitely be going back to try some of the new menu, or for more delicious American-style barbeque buns, in an old-fashioned British boozer.