What to eat as Canary Wharf turns a little bit Country
It is only a matter of time before the American barbecue boom hits London according to the Big Easy’s grill Orelle Young. The New Yorker was lured away from a successful career in the Big Apple to be executive group pitmaster of the three-branch company in the capital, whose restaurant dominates the Crossrail Place Roof Garden.
And he brought with him a love for cooking meat born of a childhood spent travelling to church barbecues with his family.
He said: “We got to try varieties through many states and they would have competitions to see who could put on the best spread. When I was about five we were at a huge hog roast, I remember it looked terrifying.”
It was only when Orelle, then a film student, got a part time job at the now renowned Hill Country barbecue restaurant in New York, that his passion became a career.
“I started front of house but they kept asking me to help out in the kitchen. I ended up being mentored by all these acclaimed chefs and, within two years, had been promoted to pitmaster.”
He was initially reluctant to uproot his life for London but once here realised he could share his passion for barbecue with a fresh audience.
The Bromley-By-Bow resident gets up at 4am every day, often stopping by Billingsgate Market to pick up seafood to serve alongside the brisket, pulled pork, chicken, ribs and other meats smoked and barbecued at the restaurant.
And he has overhauled the running of the kitchen. Computerised smokers have been replaced with traditional Old Hickory ones and he changed the rubs for the meat as well as the cooking temperatures and timings.
“I want to see that dark, almost blackened, caramelised surface on the meat and that pink beautiful smoke ring inside,” said Orelle.
He is especially proud of his Texas hotlinks – sausages made with a mix of beef and pork with a high fat content.
“Hopefully when Americans come here they say ‘Wow, the food tastes just like it does back home’. And we do it with a really small team – four people in the kitchen cooking for thousands of people every week.” Go to bigeasy.co.uk Meet the stars of Canary Wharf’s country music festival / Page 45
The Breakfast Club Crossrail Place
Start the day in style with a big plate of pancakes smothered in maple syrup. The All American (£11.75) is a hefty stack served with eggs, sausage, home-style potatoes and streaky bacon. Or get All Shook up with the Elvis Waffle (£8.50) topped with caramelised banana, Greek yoghurt, peanut butter and maple syrup. A nap may be in order.
Shake Shack Park Pavilion
Born in the USA, this burger chain arrived in Canary Wharf in early 2017 eager to offer ex-pats the taste of home and introduce Brits to its mix of flavours. Burgers are true American style with a secret ShakeSauce but are formed from Angus beef. Drinks include a root beer float and fresh brewed iced tea. Service is swift and generally with a sunny smile. Have a nice day now.
Byron Hamburgers Cabot Place East
Serves up proper hamburgers with a mix of American and British flavours. Try a classic such as the Uncle Sam with American cheese, sliced pickle, French’s American mustard and ketchup. Or for a more southern feel opt for the Make It Buffalo chicken burger with a coating of spicy sauce. Top it off with a slice of Oreo cheesecake or Reese’s freakshake. Worth wrestling a rampant bull for.
GBK Jubilee Place
Made with British beef but comes in varieties inspired by America such as The Taxidriver with Cajun relish and The Don, with American cheese, Gorgonzola, bacconnaise, onion jam, mayo, rocket and pickled onions. The Big Mouth Special gives the option add an extra 6oz patty. Just don’t shout: “USA, GBK...”
Smollensky’s Reuters Plaza
An American steak house where you can get a choice of cuts such as the fit-fora-cowboy 17oz T-bone and the 8oz flat iron with skin-on fries, garlic butter and watercress. BBQ ribs, Cajun spiced chicken and blackened salmon also grace the menu as does a peanut butter cheesecake. Bring out the stars and stripes.
Wildwood Jubilee Place
Not an American company but with plenty of inspiration from across the pond. Expect meatball and sharing platter starters, and mains including a Philly steak and cheese sandwich and rack of baby back ribs. For dessert the sundaes rule with. Wear those Walmart stretchy pants.
Starbucks Cabot Place, Jubilee Place, Canada Place
One of the biggest imports from across the pond – it doesn’t get much more American than this. Go basic with an Americano for New York swiftness, soak up some LA-style fruitiness with the Iced Shaken Mango Black Tea Lemonade, or start the day with a yee-ha by ordering a Cold Brew With Vanilla Sweet Cream. No wonder the Yanks are so upbeat.
Manhattan Grill West India Quay
Technically just over the water from Canary Wharf, it’s worth the extra steps as it serves up USDA prime cuts from Creekstone Farms in Kansas. The premium Black Angus steers are grain fed for 150 days and wet-aged for 28 before being served up as cuts including a 16 oz Rib Eye Bone In. Mac‘n’cheese and creamed spinach come on the side, while desserts such as a Manhattan cheesecake are on offer. That’s quite a spread, so fill your boots.
Orelle has dispensed with computerised smokers in favour of traditional Old Hickory versions to cook up Big Easy’s epic menu of meats
Wharfers compete in a rib eating contest to mark July 4 at Big Easy