Restaurant review: Red’s True Barbecue, Leeds city centre

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There is something of a Red’s revolution smouldering in Leeds. The fast-growing smokehouse is already doubling its presence in the city.

Students in Leeds are eagerly anticipating the new arrival on the streets of Headingley.

And the owners of Red’s True Barbecue have also ventured over to the wrong side of the Pennines to spread their love of the southern barbecue belt to Manchester.

Since Red’s opened in September 2012 the restaurant has certainly become a popular destination for carnivores across Leeds.

Whenever Oliver has passed its doors on a Saturday afternoon the queue of hungry diners has practically burst out of the door.

So it was only going to be a matter of time before Oliver returned to make sure it had not forgotten about its original faithful congregation.

When Oliver first visited the restaurant, which is on the corner of Call Lane and Cloth Hall Street, it took him two attempts to get in.

The first time was a complete write-off because of the long queues but luckily our second visit was more successful.

Taking its cues from trendy restaurants down in That London, Red’s only allows bookings for big groups during the week, and none at all on weekends.

So Oliver decided to venture early one Saturday evening in a bid to beat the rush.

Luckily there was a free table so my dining partner and I were seated as soon as we entered the bustling restaurant.

Rows of diners sitting on communal benches were busy tucking into a variety of different meaty treats and the restaurant was filled with a buzz.

An open-plan kitchen also greets hungry carnivores so you can even catch a glimpse of chefs cooking their special “low and slow” cuts of meats.

We were seated on a bench overlooking Call Lane and soaked up some of the more unusual sights of Leeds’s nightlife during our meal – including a man in a bright blue morph suit, a gaggle of hen parties staggering down the street and a woman making a mad dash for her bus with an armful of shopping.

But people spotting to one side, when it comes to marketing the team at Red’s have certainly got the theme down to a tee.

Everything ties in to a religious theme.

“Let there be meat” is their main slogan on the website and the snazzy menu is dubbed The Good Book.

The leather menu has a crucifix on the front but it certainly does not mince its words.

The clever people behind the concept have even drawn up their own back story for diners to embrace Red’s gospel of life.

Apparently on the first day Red gathered all the finest local produce from the Heavens and on Earth and by the sixth day he summoned the faithful and they feasted like Kings.

And that certainly is no mean feat after Red’s website proudly proclaims that its team serve up more than 16 tonnes of meat every month to diners.

Ribs, burgers and steaks are the mainstay and deep south barbecue restaurant Red’s serves all three.

After flicking through The Good Book it took my dining partner and I at least 15 minutes to finally decide what we were going to settle for.

To put it simply we were spoilt for choice in this carnivore’s paradise.

The starters all sounded absolutely divine and included homemade beef jerky, jalapeño poppers and cracklings.

But my dining partner and I knew we would be in for something special and decided to bypass the starters and settle straight for the main course.

My companion in carnivore crime agonised over whether to settle on an intriguingly named Donut burger – yes, it is a burger served between two glazed donuts – or Red’s trademark Pit Burger.

In the end he went for the Pit Burger which included a homemade steak burger, sliced brisket, pulled pork, streaky bacon melted cheese and a variety of different sauces.

The Pit Burger, which was priced at £15.95, came with a serving of fries but my dining partner couldn’t help but throw in a “Humble Side” as well to round off his meal.

And the homemade slaw and giant onion ring was a mouthwatering success.

Each table came with its own basket of sauce including their staple Kansas city smoke BBQ sauce and East Carolina Mopping sauce.

My partner said it was one of the best burgers he had ever tasted – but he did need to have two rests during the mammoth meal.

At one point it did look like he was going to have to wave a white flag at the burger and surrender but he soldiered on.

I settled for the 22-day dry-aged British steak served with two Humble Sides including fries and giant onion rings.

The steak came served on a small wooden board on top of a tray with an enamel dish stuffed with fries.

And it simply looked divine.

The steak, which one of the more expensive dishes was priced at £22.95, was beautifully cooked and just melted in my mouth.

Luckily I had already mentally prepared myself for my visit and didn’t eat a bite all day to make sure I had plenty of room for a dessert.

I settled for the Mississippi mud brownie while my companion mustered up the energy to devour a slice of chocolate peanut butter cheesecake.

Determined not to admit defeat we ploughed through our puddings before calling it a night.

Overall our bill, which included a beer and a soft drink, came in at a reasonable £58.45.

Amen for Red’s but Oliver just hopes it can keep its standards up and please their original congregation while the restaurant expands and spreads its barbecue taste.

Address: 1 Cloth Hall Street, Leeds, LS1 2HD.

Opening times: Mon-Thur noon - 11pm, Fri - Sat noon to midnight, Sun noon to 10pm.

Tel: 0113 834 5834.


Star rating

Food ****

Value ****

Atmosphere *****

Service ****

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