Red Dog Saloon is the American answer to London's recent trend for barbecue restaurants. A chilled out, authentic American restaurant and bar in the heart of Hoxton Square that impress for its quality food and reasonable prices.
Décor and Vibe
Red Dog Saloon is a Shoreditch Bar Restaurant inspired by great American ranch-style dining rooms, which try to recreate the old atmosphere of wild west saloons that rose during the height of the "Gold Rush". The venue itself is large and sits on a corner, dominating Hoxton Square with bold red and white signage and an alfresco area. Inside the colour scheme is warm and cosy, with lot of dark wood, leather banquettes and booths. Walls are covered in buffalo skulls, longhorns and Native-American memorabilia. Old-fashioned round shaped lights contribute to a general dimly lit atmosphere. Red Dog Saloon is the brainchild of Tom Berk, a former restaurant and events manager and BBQ enthusiast that imported a smoker from the USA, and uses only traditional American woods (hickory and mesquite) in the smoker to capture that good old American flavour.
Red Dog Saloon entrance on Hoxton Square
Clientele and Atmosphere
Red Dog Saloon attracts different kinds of customers: Old street workers and locals during the week and a younger crowd at weekends. Hoxton BBQ specialist is a venue for all, the average customers are late twenties to mid thirties, but there were also quite a few senior couples. During our visit the restaurant was divided into two parts, half was for small groups and couples and the other half was taken over by two large groups of Americans celebrating birthdays. The atmosphere was laid back and really friendly. That general easygoing feel was teamed up with a warm and impeccable service - as is the American way. Food was delivered quickly and waitresses checked regularly if we were enjoying our meals without getting too much in our face.
Food and Drink
Portions at the Red Dog Saloon are huge, cheap and satisfying. Meat and barbeque are the culinary areas in which Americans know what they're talking about. That is why among a quite big menu we choose directly from the BBQ section, skipping starters. Ribs demonstrate American-style cooking at its best. I had ribs and quarter chicken meal, with fries and salad, while my guest tried the main sell - rib and pulled pork meal with onion rings. My ribs were actually rather large and glazed with barbeque sauce; they were literally melting off the bone into my mouth. When we asked the waitress, she told us they slow cooked for over nine hours. Also the chicken was barbequed to perfection, but ribs made my dinner. My guest told me wonders of his deep south tasting pulled pork. The menu also has an ample selection of burgers, and the pièce de résistance is The Devastator, (£17.50) for 3 x 6oz beef patties, 200g pulled pork, 6 rashers crispy bacon & American cheese. BBQ meals are in the range of £14.95-17.95, while burgers with exception for The Devastator are all under £9. The Devastator is Red Dog's challenge to you, take on this huge burger stacked with pulled pork, bacon and cheese and you get a t-shirt and free meal!
The Devastator Burger at Red Dog Saloon
It's unlikely you'll be able to squeeze in a dessert, but if you do, they serve a huge choice of ice creams, sundaes, pies and brownies. We shared the most obvious choice, one of the staples of American cooking: Brownies with vanilla ice cream. The ice cream was tasty but the brownie, crispy outside and gooey and creamy inside was simply amazing. The problem was that after ribs and chicken it was really hard to finish it. Red Dog's drinks menu boasts some very reasonable wines by the glass, mainly American, French, Chilean and Spanish and a decent range of American beers, along with milkshakes made with Maryland's Y3K ice-cream. They recently added to their drinks menu sparkling wines (champagne and prosecco), Margaritas and Red Dog special cocktails. They are all priced between £7.25-£9.50, slightly below the average of the area. Unfortunately, during our visit the Watermelon Martini wasn't available but I had a really good frozen Peach Margarita instead, which was tasty and well balanced.
Music and Events
On Fridays Red Dog Saloon transforms itself into a live music venue. Only a couple of weeks ago their stage in their Basement bar has been open to jazz and blues performers. For the exact what's on programme it would be better calling them for details.
The Red Dog Saloon is a great example of an American Diner on the other side of the pond. It serves delicious and honest food well worth the price you pay (£49 for two with two drinks and a dessert). Their location and live music are about to make a splash in Hoxton - and possibly even across the capital. They welcome large groups so this is the perfect venue to book for your birthday or other special occassion!