Since opening its doors last year, Longhorns Barbacue Smokehouse has become a favourite among Newcastles foodies. Offering up a wide selection of meats, Longhorns prides itself in its Texas roots and British-only beef.
It was only a matter of time before they branched out, and it couldn’t come quick enough. Diners were dying to break out of the teeny-tiny restaurant space and be able to enjoy good ol’ Texan grub without having a queue of people staring at them or being elbowed in the face on the way to the bar. Where better to open a new premises than the thriving city of Jesmond, home to the copious students and ‘trendy’ Newcastle folk.
Tucked away on Mosely street, you have to be careful not to miss it. Look out for the sign and follow the arrows, until you turn a corner and find that your eyeballs are suddenly assaulted by a bright red sign with horns:
Something I was relieved to see when enterting Longhorns was the size of the new restraunt. Compared to there Newcastle sister, this place has to be double the size, with more seating, and the bar separate from the kitchen – I can’t even imagine how annoying and sweaty that must be for the staff! This meant that we miraculously got a table on a busy Wednesday night (payday, the footy was on AND it was student night. It was literally a miracle).
The main difference in their Jesmond branch has to be the order of service. Over in Newcastle, you’d have (probably) queud for a good half hour, been seated, browsed the menu, THEN had to get back up to order your drinks from the bar-kitchen, THEN back up to order once you’d decided on your food.
Like Newcastle, you can see the effort that’s went in to the overall ambiance of the place. With their wooden tables, Texan themed décor and a drinks menu that accentuates their roots, it’s clear that everything here has been chosen for purpose.
Service was exceptionally slow, and by the time we were served our meals they could have rode in on a live cow and I’d have chowed down. It was understandable though, since as I’ve mentioned, it was a busy night. Let me tell you though, I felt FULLY prepared to take on the board.
One of the main perks of reviewing a restaurant is that you get to be a bit of a greedy cow, and mask it under the excuse of ‘wanting to sample it properly’. Baring this in mind, I ordered the Taster Platter: A BBQ Board stacked high with their signature ‘badass brisket’, an andouille sausage, SIX chicken wings, Memphis hog butt, seasoned fries, and their BBQ beans served in an enamel mug. And that wasn’t even one of the challenges (we’ll come back to those)!
As you can imagine, I didn’t know where to start. The fries were seasoned beautifully, but I always have to remind myself not to fill up on chips when there’s so much more to offer. Out of all the meats though, I’d say that the Andouille sausage was my personal favourite. Packed with flavour – and the skin was left on, bonus! Newcastles resteraunt presents their brisket in a pulled form, whereas Jesmond preffered to leave it in chunks. Regardless, as soon as you put fork to meat it absolutely fell apart and was true beefy goodness. I’d say the chicken wings were just above average, you can’t really go wrong with wings as long as there’s plenty of meat on them (there was) and they’re heartily seasoned (they were). It was my first time trying the hog butt, and although I couldn’t get out of my head that I was literally eating a pigs arse, I couldn’t deny that it was completely mouthwatering and flavourful. Plus, I found out later that it comes from the back of their neck. There are two types of beans on offer, the three-bean chilli and the milder BBQ beans. I went for the BBQ, and although the sauce was very tasty, I’d say that this was my least favourite item on the board, coming with a weird tangy taste.
Longhorns offers two sets of challenges: The TexAss Torture Challenge and the Breaking Badass. As it goes, I’m not sure how successful a title containing the words ‘ass’ and ‘torture’ could be for making someone want to eat. Apparently the challenge lives up to its name though, where the brave/foolish person must consume 12 wings smothered in Longhorns signature hotsauce in 30 minutes or under.
The Breaking Badass is different: with one hour to complete, a BBQ board is piled with EVERYTHING off the menu and lots of it. Complete either of these challenges in the allotted time and you’re face goes up on their ‘wall of fame’ and you get a T-shirt. Worth the hours spent crouched over the bog as hellfire spits out of you? Debatable, it’s a really sweet looking T-shirt.
After my Fat Hippo escapades, you’ll already know that I love to talk a big foodie-game, but when it comes to putting it away I’m WEAK and can barely manage an average portion. In my defence, this was no average portion, so I only felt, like, 7% stupid for asking staff to put my leftovers in a doggybag.
I mean sure, the sign creeped me out to no end, but I imagine this would be a great spot to enjoy a late lunch with friends on a nice day.
This is my pet peeve with a lot of restaurants these days. Why is it when you take home your extras, they automatically throw your chips away? YOU DON’T KNOW ME, OKAY? You have no idea if I like day-old soggy chips. I do, as a matter of fact, and the next day while I tucked in at my desk, I was vastly disappointed. Hurt, actually, is a better descriptor. You hurt me, Longhorns.
Overall, it’s a big-fat-juicy-yes-dipped-in-BBQ-sauce from me. Always a fan of the Newcastle branch, I love that they’ve got rid of the annoying niggles like space issues and queing to order with the Jesmond site. I expect it won’t be long until there’s a Longhorns in every town, and that’ll be just fine by me.
Have you been to the new Longhorns yet? Let me know what you thought in the comments below, or on Twitter at @dimmickhead!