All the reviews of this place seem generally positive, and with barbecue being done right in London the past few years (Miss P’s, Pitt Cue, SmokeStak and Big Easy to name a few of my favourites) we decided to stroll down and check this place out on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
The first thing to hit you when entering a barbecue restaurant, is the smell of saliva-inducing smoke – the lack of it when entering The Joint immediately set alarm bells off in my head, and the fear was confirmed when we sat down and were handed the menus, and the only mention of ‘smoke’ was the aioli. Until recently, the prefix ‘BBQ’ on a menu generally meant boiled/braised mushy meat slathered in a sickly sweet sauce, rather than slow-smoked and tender. Think Garfunkel’s or Harvester. Unfortunately, The Joint seems to have reverted back to this definition, just in a slightly more refined way.
The interior of the place seems to have gone too far with the whole bare-brick motif, it just looked like an unfinished building site. A neat touch though was the little Gastronorm bins for bones etc. in that slotted into a cut out hole in the middle of the table.
The first things to reach our table were BBQ Wings (£4.50). These arrived tied up in a little paper parcel, and were not bad – falling-off-the-bone tender, fried in slightly too heavy batter and smothered in a tasty, sharp barbecue sauce. Closely followed by the BBQ Riblets (£4.50) also smothered in the same sauce. It was getting a bit samey at this point, we were growing tired of the vinegary kick.
Then came out mains. Yet again, both of our sandwiches were saturated with the same sauce, practically making all the other components pointless, and you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the pork and the beef. The brisket (£9.50) came in an almost rock solid, stale ‘potato roll’ (Martin’s have nothing to fear here), smoked garlic aioli and bacon relish, neither of which you could actually taste over the BBQ sauce. The Pulled Pork (£8.50) came in a slightly fresher ‘fig and vanilla’ bun which was interesting, but once again, anonymous against the now face-contorting sauce. The ‘candied apple bacon’ had the awful taste of an apple Jolly Rancher, or the sickly sweet smell of a shisha pipe.
The ‘Mexican corn on the cob’ (£4-ish?) was pretty bad too, dusted in a generic, raw-tasting chilli powder – I’d hate to be portrayed as a know-it-all backseat driver, but an actually Mexican smoked chilli like Ancho would have worked much better, this just seemed lazy. The only thing I did enjoy here was the béchamel coated Cheese Fries (£3.50), but maybe that was because it provided respite from the acidic BBQ sauce on everything else that had kicked the sh*t out of my tastebuds by this point…