BBQ @ The Dark Horse
Thursday, 23rd April 2015
Keith who runs The Prince of Wales and Dark Horse invited B13 to come and try out his US style BBQ.
I volunteered. When you’re invited to try your hand at cooking American-style BBQ the correct answer is yes. When offered a BBQ platter, the answer is also yes.
It’s the first time I’ve met Keith. I’ve heard tales, seen him about and drank in his establishments but this is my initiation. And my first impression is he’s just a great experimenter, great company and a passionate man.
Keith knows his BBQ. We sit looking at a piece of brisket cooked the day before. Keith uses this as a map to discuss the history of BBQ and smoking in the US. He has worked in kitchens and followed BBQ around the USA, seeking it out, meeting chefs, going to food trucks and trying it all. He teaches me about the role of each state. There’s a romance to how food was traditionally cooked. The history is wrapped up in cowboys and the good honest home cooking of the people.
The meat is sourced from a Midlands farm, the award-winning third generation family butcher, Joseph Morris. Everything is done on the farm so Keith trusts the quality and welfare. Just before we get stuck in to preparing a fresh piece of brisket Keith looks up and says: “I should have asked earlier, but you’re not a veggie are you?”. If I was then I’d definitely be the wrong man for the job. It would be like needing a barrister and your friend recommending Joe who makes his Frappe at Costa.
My task on the night is to make our own rub. We mix in garlic, chili powders, salt, sugar, pepper and then just really get rubbing. Keith guides me through and we both get stuck in. Once you’ve prepped the brisket you have to cook it at a low temperature for a long time. Our brisket went in for 18 hours. Louis, the smoker in the Dark Horse is a US-imported machine that uses pellets to create the smoke and bring flavour. In a dream world I think Keith would have a proper smoker and a timber yard outback.
We talk about his choice to go for stone baked pizzas, handmade burgers and now home-cooked BBQ. Keith loves BBQ; he wants to be proud of what he does and wants it to benefit Moseley. He’s a business man yes, but he’s a dreamer too. He tells me ‘if you find something you love, do it with passion and commitment and profit will follow’. We should all take note of that.
I came back with my partner to try it the next day, and we are presented with the most almighty serving of American style gastronomy you can imagine. You needn’t imagine because the photos illustrate what I’m talking about. At the end: our plates are clear, bellies full, faces are smiling and we leave content if a little sleepy. It’s honest food and, not that a microwave is the mark of good or bad food but there’s not one at the Dark Horse, all the food is fresh, prepared in their kitchens and served up to order.
As Keith says, ‘It is casual food but I need it to be really good’. Spoiler alert; it is. It’s really bloody good: spicy, fresh, wholesome, moorish and a great partner to any one of the many beers.
So come down and try some. BBQ starts at £8 for half rack of pork ribs, £13 for the brisket or £49 for a sharing platter of everything for four. Bring your mates along and check out Dark Horse on Facebook.