A visit to Bluegrass BBQ Smokehouse in Windsor
PUBLISHED: 11:42 19 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:50 19 August 2019
Started by husband and wife team Steve and Catherine Brown, Bluegrass BBQ Smokehouses are now in Windsor, Reading and High Wycombe. We visited the Windsor restaurant to experience their friendly Southern States hospitality
Driven by a passion for meats cooked the American way, Catherine and Steve Brown decided to share their love of authentic American barbecue by opening a restaurant.
"Back in 2013, we opened our first restaurant in a timber-frame building in High Wycombe," says Steve. And it was a big hit with the locals.
"Due to its success, we were able to open another restaurant in Reading in 2015," he says. "And then last year, we opened our third one here in this old listed Tudor building in Windsor. It's set across three floors and we love our location, right next to the castle. It was an ice-cream shop before, and we've retained the old-fashioned features."
Steve points out the spiral staircase and the quirky telegraph pole in the middle of the ground-floor restaurant, as well as giving us a tour of the uber-clean kitchen that runs under the street.
The building is directly opposite and has close historical ties to Windsor castle, and was frequented by royalty in the past. But despite the building's very British history, the interiors have been heavily inspired by America.
The tin tiles on the ceiling were shipped over from the States, and the posters and neon lights, as well as the funky leather booths, are all a nod to Southern America, while cool Bluegrass music plays in the background.
The top two floors can be hired out for private parties, and even have their own 'secret' bar and sound system.
I love the laid-back vibe of the place, but the real star of the show is the food. And the team have been rewarded for their efforts, having won awards for their recipes.
Steve tells me he has always loved the United States and their slow-smoked meats. "I imported American smokers, which we use to cook our meats for up to 18 hours. It actually takes nearly 48 hours to perfect each of our smoked meat cuts − a lot of care and attention goes into our food to make it the best it can be," he says.
Steve is one of only a few Brits to have ever competed in the prestigious Jack Daniels Invitational BBQ Championships in Tennessee, where he won second place for their brisket recipe, which you can try in the restaurant.
Popular dishes are the BBQ Big 4 of beef brisket, pulled pork, BBQ chicken and St Louis spare and baby back ribs. "We make everything fresh from scratch," Steve says.
I met head chef Michelle during my visit and was lucky enough to try a homemade smoked burger, mac and cheese and smoked chilli among other things − and everything was so, so good.
The menu is vast, offering everything from flat-iron steaks and pit boss platters to homemade brownies, donuts and salted caramel cheesecake.
"And we open for breakfast and offer bottomless tea and coffee," says Steve.
I can recommend the made-to- order' fluffy pancakes, especially the one with the pulled pork! Or try bacon or smoked sausage brioche buns, imported cereals and smokehouse breakfast plates.
The drinks menu is just as long. "You must try our imported America sodas," says Steve. "And we have our own recipe Bluegrass American pale ale."
There's also a whole host of interesting craft beers from Wild Beer, Magic Rock, Brewdog and Tiny Rebel, as well as a Peanut Butter Stout and much more."
The couple, who have been married for eight years, have two sons, age six and four, who love coming to the restaurants to try the food.
As did I. And a week on, I really fancy one of those delicious burgers right now. It's great that we don't need to fly 4,925 miles to eat the real deal; that thanks to the talents of the Bluegrass team, we can enjoy real American barbecue right on our doorstep in Windsor. But also, through Deliveroo, I can now get my Bluegrass fix at home too! How cool is that?
bluegrass-bbq.com; If you're a Windsor Advantage Card holder, you can get great offers at Bluegrass Windsor
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