Back in April 2013, I reviewed an American style BBQ pop-up at The Canadian in Splott during its first few weeks of trading.
I immediately fell a little bit in love with Hang Fire Smokehouse thanks to their stonkingly good ribs, infectiously warm service and the spit ’n’ sawdust atmosphere.
Since then, Shauna Guinn and Sam Evans, the First Ladies of 'Cue, have taken Cardiff by storm. Amongst other things they’ve kick-started Cardiff’s pop-up and street food scene, won Best Street Food at the 2015 BBC Food & Farming Awards and will soon publish their first cook book. They haven’t been busy at all then.
Now, after years of speculation, Hang Fire have finally opened their first bricks and mortar restaurant in the seaside town of Barry. It’s a sensible move considering Cardiff’s market saturation and Barry’s untapped potential.
Furthermore, the location in a Grade II listed 19th Century pump house is an absolute beaut. Throw in Hang Fire’s usual wood-smoked meats, an expanded grill menu utilising a custom built Argentinian parrilla, some kick-ass booze and Hang Fire are still very much onto a winner.
Schooners of light and hoppy Rocky Top beer (£3), an exclusive collaboration with the Waen Brewery, were the kind of thing you could make a session of.
Cocktails, a fruity Hang Fire Hurricane (£6.75) made with rum, lime, orange, grenadine and passion fruit and a fragrant Crescent City (£6.50) made with gin, mint and elderflower were both deceptively easy drinking.
A shout out also must go to the fabulous root beer (£3) made by Hackney’s Square Root.
Onto the food, and starters set an expectedly high level.
Frickles (£3.50), aka deep fried pickle slices, were enjoyably grease free and served with a ketchup / mayo based Cajun fry sauce.
Textbook smoked wings (£6.50) were crisp, tender and jointed correctly. One portion was coated in sticky Kansas City BBQ sauce whilst another in buttery and pokey Louisiana Hot sauce. Wet wipes at the ready.
For Mrs G and I the main course was only going to go one way - The Big Pit Plate (£34). Two heaving trays of meats and sides hogged our half of the table.
Memphis style ribs were as good as ever - tender, meaty, smokey and coated in a deep-flavoured dry rub. If you order one thing at Hang Fire, make it the ribs.
Unctuous shreds of 21-hour smoked pulled pork were topped with a good glug of BBQ sauce whilst juicy brisket had a blushing pink smoke ring to remind you things are done properly around here. Refreshingly sweet pickles were as close as we came to something green during the meal.
Sides didn’t let the side down. Crisp thick-cut chips were the ideal mop for Hang Fire’s homemade sauces, light coleslaw thankfully hadn’t been acquainted with a whole bottle of mayonnaise and BBQ pit beans tasted so meaty they belied their vegetarian status. Slightly dry cornbread was the only average thing to pass my lips all meal.
Across the table, our friend enjoyed his gargantuan custom built medium-cooked burger (£15) topped with brisket, house cured back bacon and oozy Monterey Jack cheese, and accompanied by fries and slaw.
Breadcrumbed smoked chicken pieces (£13) meanwhile were joined by waffle thins, black and white pepper gravy and sweet potato fries.
Desserts were thankfully light - exactly the kind of thing you need after a tableful of meat.
Banana pudding (£4) was a simple yet effective combination of sliced bananas, custard, whipped cream and a short vanilla biscuit.
Key Lime pie (£4.25) was refreshingly tangy with a crunchy ginger biscuit base.
I’d recommend booking a table at Hang Fire as soon as you can get one. I’ve heard talk they’re booked up for a while but if you’re lucky you might be able to snag one of the tables they keep back for walk ins.
Address - Hang Fire Southern Kitchen, The Pumphouse, Hood Road, Barry, CF62 5QN
Web - https://www.hangfiresouthernkitchen.com/