Places To Eat In London: Porky’s, Bankside
I’ve found my favourite place in London to eat Southern style barbecue. You may have noticed that I eat in an awful lot of different places every week, so for me to come away from a meal without finding many flaws, and to have really, really loved the experience is a rare thing. Last week after a trip to Borough Market to pick up ingredients for my column, I drifted along to Bankside to meet a friend at Porky’s, a Memphis barbecue joint across the street from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. (Pre or post theatre cocktails and meat-fest, anyone?)
As I had time on my hands (I’m usually pretty busy whenever I’m in London, but I’d given myself the day off, aside from the quick ingredient trip) so I rocked up an hour early to sit at the bar and to read Borough Market’s Market Life newspaper. However, I did not make it into my paper, because the brilliant barman proved excellent conversation along with my guest beer, a delicious and really recommended Anchor California Lager (West Coast represent!) Sorry I can’t remember your name, but thanks for keeping me company!
Shall we first talk about the next round of drinks we ordered once Jon had arrived and we got settled at our table? I’m not a whisky drinker, but apparently this very nicely garnished Barrel Aged Old Fashioned was very nice. As I said, I just think it looked pretty. If you’re wondering what the rather colourful number in the tall glass is, that would be my ‘Mocktail’, the Passion Punch. There use to be a time when I’d roll my eyes at the ‘mocktail’ section of a menu, but these days when I’m either limited to just one beer, or not drinking at all because of driving commitments, good non-alcoholic drinks on a menu cause me to put a massive gold star next to the place. I just ordered what my new bartender friend recommended, and it came long, cool, sweet (but not too much so) and colourful. One I’d recommend if you like a fruity drink and impressive photo fodder. I’ll be ordering their virgin mojito next time I visit if I’m not on the harder stuff.
Right, lets talk meat. It is why you’re all here, after all! We had one of these smoky ribs each, along with a lovely pile of rib tips, which are one of my all time favourite barbecue items. They had a good balance of meat and fat and are perfect to just pick up and dig in. Something I thought made the barbecue particularly awesome at Porky’s is that the sauce that comes in your dish is not the only goodness you’ll get; the house barbecue sauce is available on the table in a squeeze bottle, as well as classic Southern sop mop cooking juice, which made a wonderful addition to the pulled pork. Oh Porky’s pulled pork. I find a lot of pulled pork too saucy, too vinegary, or too dry. This was moist and full of smoky flavour; probably one of the best pulled pork portions I’ve ever had the privilege to dive into. On this basis, I’d order their pulled pork burger next.
While their half a chicken was very moist and coated in a delicious barbecue sauce, it is just still, well, chicken. Ubiquitous white meat. So on that note while there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, I’d recommend forgoing it in favour of more pork. You’re at Porky’s, after all! Oh, and while we’re still on our meat platter, we did also get some house pickles in the middle. We are both people who are naturally suspicious of pickled beetroot so we forwent trying that, but I absolutely loved the picked gherkin pieces. They really cut through the rich and fatty pork, and added some much welcomed sharpness.
While we did not really need any more food, I felt some more vegetables other than the pickles may be in order. And besides, when there are sweet potato fries on the menu, you must always order sweet potato fries, right? Well, they were crisp, full of flavour and paired perfectly with our barbecue. Everything you want from the little orange beauties.
Porky’s was brilliant. It does what it says on the tin, the food is wonderful and the atmosphere makes it somewhere you’ll be happy to hang at for several hours at any time of the day, around any meal time. However, I’d like to go back in the evening for more of their brilliant soundtrack (well my iPod is full of country and Southern rock music, after all!) and their beer pong tables. Well, I was an American college student for the middle year of my otherwise good old English university degree, remember!