Ah Ribstock, now this is my kind of party. Last year’s event was epic (check out my post here) and I was gutted when I was less than a minute late for tickets and found they were sold out. Luckily, a couple opened up for the waitlist and I was in! (With 3 friends of course).
While I had some doubts about the value proposition for this year as the ticket went up from £50 to £75 and the number of competitors decreased from 10 to 7, it turns out that once again @Tweat_Up knows best. The ribs were overall excellent with a couple of standouts and one that could do with some more R&D. Enough fluff, let’s get to the meat.
- Q Grill
- Roti Chai
- Breddos Tacos
- The Rib Man
- Texas Joe BBQ
HotBox – Scotch Bonnet Rib
A St. Louis style rib (which means it’s a spare rib with some of the bone and cartilage trimmed) covered in a scotch bonnet reduction, this was packed with flavour and smoked to perfection. Although it’s not that much of a surprise given the absolute beast of a smoker these guys brought to the party.
The meat was juicy and retained just enough fat to give it taste without being oily. The scotch bonnets had been tempered to give a slow warming burn which made the ribs that much more moreish. It was manageable for the spice-phobes and enhanced with a splash of the Ribman’s bacon Holy Fuck sauce for the spice-fiends.
Q Grill – ‘Q cut’ rib with Q BBQ Sauce
I’ve no idea what define a ‘Q cut’ rib, but it’s obvious that these guys know their stuff. The pair of ribs were nicely cooked with a good balance of smoke and meat. The BBQ sauce was delicious with a hint of fire and the creamy tartare sauce mixed with the slaw was, as a random Irish girl next to me stated “f*ckin’ delicious”. Guess it’s time I check out the restaurant too, they apparently can BBQ and still be posh enough to top Selfridges.
Smokestak – Ribs and Tips
Back to the St. Louis cut rib, these were served with rib tips as well which is an added morsel of joy. Another excellently executed rib, the meat flaked off the bone and was liberally doused in sticky bbq sauce. It was served with a hefty portion of pickled slaw and chillies which added a great tangy flavour to balance out the richness of the rib.
Roti Chai – Himalayan Baby Back Ribs
Roti Chai was my favourite last year, and I had great hopes for them this year. I can’t fault the grill master as the meat was succulent, however I think the flavour profile might have let them down. Personally, I loved the sweet marinade although by the third rib it was starting to get heavy and I recognise most people don’t have the same fondness for sweets as I do. As the final rib of the evening, it worked well as a segue into dessert but if you’d had it at the start I imagine it would have been tough going. Props for the large portion size and being the only competitor to again offer a free shot with the ribs.
Breddos Tacos – Beef Short Rib
The only beef rib of the competition, this had great promise (and made a nice change from the pork heavy meal – yes I know it was #PorkLife). The flavour profile was pretty good with a savoury mole sauce again standing out from the BBQ sauces of the competition. However, I think the rib could have used a little more time on the BBQ to break down the connective tissues – our rib was about 30 minutes shy of being melt in your mouth. The tacos were spot on though!
The Rib Man – Holy Fuck Rib
The Rib Man, as always, puts on a pretty good rib and I think it was just the quality of the competition that resulted in his rib being towards the bottom of the pack. Still when this is one of the lowest ranking ribs, you know you’ve had a spectacular Ribstock. For me, it’s the punchiness of the sauce that overwhelms the rib and a cooling slaw would have been great to moderate it. Instead, the Holy Fuck slaw burned just as much which led to the downing of a pint or two of cold Frontier lager.
Texas Joe’s BBQ – Triple Porky Rib
Unfortunately, this was the one rib I felt let down the competition. The rib was cooked reasonably well but lacked any flavour in the meat and insufficient sauce to give it a boost. Either you need a meatier rib where the sauce is just the cherry on the top, or you need to douse it with flavour. And a bit of seasoning wouldn’t hurt either.
I’d be remiss in not giving a shoutout to Bad Brownie and their excellent brownies. We sampled the whole range (yeah we’re gluttons) as well as a couple of chilli brownie pops that you dip in applesauce and roll in bacon bits. I didn’t think it possible, but that was a porky brownie. If you haven’t had the pleasure, drop down by Maltby St Markets on the weekend to get a Brownie so Bad, it’s good.
Bleecker St put on a double pork patty burger that was both stylish and delicious. Somehow we managed to find room to stuff one of those down our gullets too. I can’t wait till they open up their permanent joint in January!
And of course Frontier lager which was a great pairing for Ribstock. It’s easy to drink and lightly carbonated so you don’t end up full of gas. Plus the barstaff were top notch at pulling pints almost faster than the line could form.
Worth the dosh?
Finally, a quick word on the value proposition. At £75, it was a steep investment but the ability to bring in a +1 helped tone down the costs. In addition, every competitor was very generous with portions and there was more than enough to share between two. On top of the food, you also got a bottle of Bacon Holy Fuck by the Rib Man, a bag of Mr. Porker’s crackling, a shot of Tin Cup whiskey, and a pretty decent Tin Cup Old Fashioned. Oh, and unlimited Frontier lager. Plus you got an extra Porklife ticket for your +1 which gave you another bottle of sauce, a bag of crackling, a beer, and a shot of whiskey.
So let’s do the math. If you had tried all the ribs you’d have paid £35 (7 x £5). Add to that the £15 PorkLife ticket for your mate which takes you up to £50. The whiskey shots were about £3 each plus the Old Fashioned (we’ll not count the extra beer) so say £12 for the lot and you’re at £62. So you end up paying £13 for unlimited beer, two bottles of sauce, two bags of crackling, and a pretty damn good time. I think that’s fairly reasonable, don’t you?