Forward on 10 years or so and I found myself strutting into Austen’s Smokehouse, a venture setup by DJ Yoda, which serves wholesome BBQ food. I am a massive fan of Southern BBQ after spending a few weeks in Amurica a few years ago, so was extremely excited to sample what was on offer.
As we stepped through the door, my head was nodding to the sound of classic 90s hip hop. Austen’s had a lovely rustic feeling of the deep South, with shutters on the wall and fans blowing a cool breeze. Food was served in paper trays and large steel dishes, beer was served in ‘Schooners’ which is 2/3 pint, and they had a great selection.
On to the food. To start we had sticky tangy wings with a blue cheese dip. These were truly finger-licking. We sampled two of the sandwiches: the American Mutha and Shrimp Po-Boy. The first had a sample of both the brisket and Toulouse sausage inside. These were very tasty and the meat was cooked so tenderly it melted in your mouth. The shrimp was pretty special as well although I don't think my girlfriend gave me much opportunity to really get a proper bite. Despite the flavours being spot-on, I felt the food was slightly overpriced for what you actually got, my sandwich could have had more meat inside, especially considering I had to pay for sides on top.
Finding authentic American BBQ in London is hard, so many places claim the crown but often do little more than spray the meat with 'BBQ' sauce. Austen's does have that authentic taste which certainly makes it stand out and is worth the visit.
Austen’s has only been open for a few weeks so is still finding its feet, and I can see the popularity of this place growing as more people hear about it. The staff were lovely and informative about all the different flavours Austen’s had to offer, and I will definitely be going back when I crave that good ol' BBQ!
(Plus point: There was no DJ Yoda merch all over the place. It is so off-putting going into a eatery and facing a wall of cookbooks, branded measuring spoons and over-priced tat that you actually have no use for. I am hungry and I came for the food.)
Make a booking via Austen's website: http://austensbbq.co.uk/
Hit them up on twitter (@austensbbq) or Facebook.