Building on the success of its original Chelsea site, Big Easy has brought its brand of American BBQ more central with a new site in Covent Garden. All in all, a good addition to the CG food scene or rather it will be once it irons out the remaining kinks. For now, it feels a bit like the second spot is trading on the rep of the original and it remains to be seen if it can live up to its older sibling.
The décor and general atmosphere leans more towards the whiskey and ribs joint found down in Texas rather than the crabshack theme in the original and the menu follows suit with plenty of BBQ choices and one hell of an impressive whiskey selection. On the whole, the staff are friendly and welcoming although lean a tad away from professional when out of immediate sight (though not hearing) of customers.
Food: ★★★☆☆ Service: ★★☆☆☆ Atmosphere: ★★★☆☆ Value: ★★★★☆ Overall: ★★★☆☆
If you like whiskey, there is little better than the Big Easy bar which has something on the order of 100+ whiskies to choose from grouped by region. There are actually two bars: the main waiting area on the ground level and a cosier area populated by large booths just downstairs. I prefer upstairs as you get the full view of the towering whiskey bar – but then again I’m into that kinda thing. This is a full bar, so you aren’t restricted to the spirits and they even offer a few boozy slushies to cool you down.
Looking for something a little different? The Maple Leaf is on the opposite side of the street and is the token Canadian bar. Think beers, shots, and slightly over-exuberant and welcoming people. It’s not classy by any means but usually a good spot for some fun. Similarly, the Porterhouse is just down the street and has a similar vibe. And if you want to stay British, Rules is one of the oldest restaurants and its bar serves up some potent (and unfortunately pricey) cocktails.
What to eat?
Steak and lobster. Quite simply, those are the two most decadent options, taste delicious, and are yet offered at a price that surprisingly affordable. Since we were there on the 50% off special, we opted for both the 1000g (aka 1kg) T-bone steak (£40) and the LobsterFest deal (£20). The T-bone was grilled rare per our request and largely arrived that way which proves there is some skill on the grill. It had a good meaty taste and remained tender and juicy. The only downside was a slight lack in seasoning and I think a little more salt and pepper would have gone a long way but the peppercorn sauce we ordered alongside (another £2) did the trick.
For £20, the LobsterFest is a great deal as you get a 1.5lb lobster with your choice of butter, a small bucket of fries, and a drink (beer, well cocktail, or a slushie). Served steamed, the shellfish proved to be sweet and succulent although a bit tricky to break with the tiny claw crackers that were provided. Be warned – eat fast or you risk the butter clarifying and cooling leaving you with some greasy clumps rather than a garlicky sauce.
We rounded off the meal with a selection of greens, and appetizer platter, and a BBQ “Taste-o-Rama” which included ribs, chicken, and pulled pork. The BBQ platter was decent taste-wise although the ribs tended to be a bit dry on the edges and the pulled pork has a bit more fat that I would have expected from a slow-cooked meat. If you’ve looking for some ribs, the Chelsea Big Easy has a better selection and a bit more experience on the slow cooking from the taste of it.
Greens on the whole were perfectly fine with the exception of the wood-fired mushrooms. I expected an element of woodiness but figured it was along the lines of a smoky flavor. What we got, instead, was something akin to chewing on new vines and was damn near inedible. Stay away unless you often find yourself chomping down on a bush when hunger strikes.
And drinks? Did you say slushie…?
Yep, there are boozy slushies! I went with the Sazerac slushie based on @HelenaFleur’s recommendation. Possibly one of the better alcoslushies I’ve had, it captured the general taste of a Sazerac with a bit more sugar than necessary. It’s a good balance against the rich acidity of the BBQ sauce and matched decently with the sweeter lobster meat.
If that doesn’t strike your fancy, try a whiskey or two which start at around £4 (25ml measure I think) for a decent 10 year old scotch or fiery bourbon. Not too bad and a great way to build your taste experience if you’ve been limited to Jack, Jim, and Johnnie in the past.
The rest of the group went teetotal and opted for the fresh lemonade. It’s refreshing and tangy but the portion size is quite small so make sure to balance it with plenty of water or you’ll need to order a round every few minutes!
Worth the dosh?
At 50% off it most definitely was. At full price, our bill would have come to around £35pp which isn’t too bad for a very filling meal and a round of drinks, especially for the area. As far as which Big Easy to go to, it depends on what you want. For ribs and shrimp, the Chelsea location is the place to go but for a solid steak and lobster combo the Covent Garden spot has it in spades.
Find Big Easy Covent Garden here
12 Maiden Lane, London, WC2E 7NA
020 3728 4888