If you, like me, are the type of person who has no qualms eating chicken wings for breakfast, thinks Adam Richman is a national treasure and would trade your grandad’s walking stick for a slushy cocktail then you should’ve heard of the Big Easy.
Inspired by the crab shacks & Bar.B.Q’s of the Deep South, the three part restaurant chain has been satisfying the meat and seafood lovers amongst us for the past 22 years. I visited the Covent Garden arm which, having been renovated from an old Electricity Power Station, is their newest venue to open.
Inside, the restaurant spans over three floors and is decorated every bit as gloriously gimmicky as we have come to expect from American eateries. You’ll find authentic timber beams, hanging ropes, exposed brick and crab shack souvenirs in abundance. There’s even the odd neon lobster caught in a fishing net above your head. The best bit though? The Big Easy branded bib worn proudly by every eating customer. Whilst best known for being a restaurant, with its impressive 9-meter bar back stocked with over 500 bottles of spirits and live music 7 nights a week, Big Easy doubles as a fun party bar suitable for every occasion from birthdays to first dates.
The Food and Drink
When the words ‘Bar.B.Q & Crabshack’ are in the name, you are not going to win any points for guessing what’s on the menu. It’s the care put into the acquiring and cooking of food though that sets Big Easy apart from other Deep South diners on the block; meats are smoked in-house over southern barbecue pits imported directly from Texas and the lobster is flown in fresh 3 times a week from Atlantic waters.
From the extensive menu we started with the Pit-Smoked Bar.B.Q Chicken Wings (£8.90) which are smothered in rich sauce and cooked to soft, pull-apart perfection, accompanied by a generous sized portion of Popcorn Shrimp served with Tartar & Cocktail Sauces. Despite the crispy exterior, inside the shell-fish are juicy in taste and the perfect bite size accessory to a drink.
Keeping with the theme of sharing, we opted for the ‘Lobster Roll’ (£20) and ‘Taste-O-Rama! BBQ platter’ dishes as mains. Served in a toasted brioche roll with a side of thick cut chips; the fresh, creamy lobster filling oozes over the top of the bun and served in decent sized chunks providing justification for the £20 price tag. The Taste-O-Rama meat platter is a delicious teaser into what Big Easy does best, offering a taster of Pit-Smoked Bar.B.Q Chicken, Dry-Rubbed St Louis Pork Ribs, Carolina Pulled Pork and Texas Brisket (for an extra £4). Overall, the dish was an enticing mix of smoky flavours and textures with the tangy pulled pork and slow cooked, tender brisket standing out as our favourites. Don't miss their 'Hit & Run' lunch offer too, where a signature meal, beverage and fries comes at just £10.
The drinks at Big Easy take as much influence from the Southern States as the food does with fun, crowd-pleasing favourites such as Pickle Backs, X-rated shakes and Old Fashioned on tap amongst the most popular choices. Being a frozen Margarita girl through and through I stuck with the Tequila based slushies all night which although lacking in presentation, packed a boozy punch. If tequila is not your poison then there is a wide range of other slushies such as Strawberry Daiquiris, Pina Coladas and Mai Tai’s to get your brain freeze fix from.
It’s not just the name that Big Easy has coined from New Orleans, but the famously laid-back lifestyle of its residents which got the Southern State its nickname in the first place. The staff are welcoming, can talk their way backwards through the menu and manage to calmly orchestrate what to the outside eye looks like chaos. Maybe it’s the live music pulsing through the venue, or the fact that no food choice is a bad choice, but from top to bottom the restaurant has an undeniable buzz in the air. The vibrant atmosphere and dim lighting allows customers to forget about their work day, ‘mistake’ a Tuesday for Friday and get carried away with one too many two-pint steins.
If you’re after a lively atmosphere, big portions of tasty grub and an all-round high-slapping good time then the Big Easy is for you. Quality ingredients and passion for the Deep South is at the heart of the restaurant and is what keeps millions of Londoners going back for more.