Friday, 26 April 2013

Hang Fire Smokehouse, The Canadian, Splott

------ Update 14th March 2016 ------

Hang Fire Smokehouse have finally opened their first bricks and mortar restaurant in the town of Barry (just to the west of Cardiff). It's an absolute stunner. Contact details can be found at the bottom of the post.


“My one guilty pleasure is a good rack of ribs. Where I come from, in South Carolina, people didn’t have two pennies to rub together. A rack of ribs was a luxury. Like Christmas in July.”
Congressman Frank Underwood

I’ve recently emerged from a box set Bermuda Triangle in the form of House of Cards. Over the last few weeks, Kevin Spacey’s epic performance as Congressman Frank Underwood has consumed my every waking hour.

One of the take home messages from the series (other than the dark side of scheming politicians, lobbyists, charities, journalists etc etc) is that the best American Barbecue isn’t posh.

Hang Fire Smokehouse, located in the shabby spit and sawdust Canadian pub in Splott, sings entirely from this hymn sheet.

Before opening Hang Fire, proprietors Samantha Evans and Shauna Guinn travelled around America for six months learning the art of Southern Barbecue. It was time well spent as Hang Fire serves some absolutely corking food.

Order a pint from the bar (disappointingly the only draught lagers are Fosters and Carling), make your choices from the reassuringly brief menu (there's no starters or puddings), place your order at the Hang Fire counter, grab a table and wait for the good stuff to arrive.  

I ordered the Hang Fire Plate (£9.50). All the smoked meats on this sampling plate were off the hook.

Ribs were soft with a good hit of smoke and a light brush of BBQ sauce. Unctuous pulled pork was soft with the odd jewel of crispiness. Lastly, lightly smoked chicken wings provided welcome respite from the pork overload.  Sides of crisp, fluffy paprika-dusted chips and pulled pork flecked BBQ beans completed the fantastic plate of food.

Mrs G ordered a special of BBQ beef short ribs (£11). Beefy, crispy, smoky and yielding, they were two of the largest ribs of meat I’ve ever seen. A side of house made ‘slaw was lightly dressed with mayonnaise and well seasoned.

Sweet mustard South Carolina sauce and a light Kansas City BBQ sauce proved excellent dips whilst kitchen roll and wet wipes were essential tools for cleaning up our sauce coated paws.

It’s safe to say that Hang Fire Smokehouse is Splott’s first destination restaurant. They’re currently only open on Friday evenings and Saturday lunch and they don't take reservations. I’d get in there whilst you can still get a table...

The details:
Address -  Hang Fire Southern Kitchen, The Pumphouse, Hood Road, Barry, CF62 5QN
Web -

Hang Fire Smokehouse @ The Canadian on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Shaam Nights, City Road, Cardiff - The Cardiff Kebab Quest

The search for Cardiff’s best kebab is proving to be a lot more challenging than I first anticipated.

It’s not because there’s a dearth of decent doners or a scarcity of succulent shishes. In fact, it’s quite the opposite - City Road and its environs have turned out to be a kebab utopia.

Reviewed kebabs from Lilo’s and Mina’s and post-pub guzzles from KBS and Abo Ali have all been excellent. Now, Shaam Nights can been thrown into the mix too.

Shaam Nights, formerly Can Zaman, is a Syrian restaurant with stunning Middle Eastern inspired decor. Mosaic tiled walls and grand metal chandeliers take you to a place a long way from the hustle and bustle of City Road.

A lack of alcoholic beverages is more than compensated for by an excellent selection of freshly squeezed juices and smoothies. Both a strawberry and banana smoothie (£3) and an apple juice (£2.50) were commendable stand-ins for lager.

We started with some top notch mixed mezze (£8). Smooth hummus, smoky and creamy moutabal and pomegranate syrup drizzled baba ghanoush were all mopped up with warm flatbread. Crisp falafel and juicy rice-stuffed vine leaves completed the dish.

The kebabs – Shish tawook (£8) and a mixed kebab (£10)

Meat – The shish tawook comprised of two skewers of plump, juicy and lightly marinated charcoal grilled chicken breast. The mixed kebab consisted of a skewer of the first-rate shish tawook, a skewer of tender lamb shish and an average lamb kufta which lacked crispness and moisture.  

Bread – The only bread we saw was served with the starter - next time I’d order some more to go with the main. Whilst it was very good, I prefer the fluffy softness of Lilo’s bread.

Salad – A simple and fresh salad of lettuce, cucumber and tomato lightly dressed with oil and lemon.

Sauce – Thick, subtle flavoured garlic yoghurt and a punchy chilli sauce were superb.

Other – A huge mound of buttery rice filled any remaining gaps in my stomach.

The verdict – Shaam Nights serves an excellent kebab in opulent surroundings. The chicken breast and sauces are the best I’ve encountered so far on my quest. For me, it’s the bread which stops it from being on a par with Lilo’s. 

The Details:

Address - 116-118 City Road, Cardiff, CF24 3HR
Telephone - 0292 0482824

Shaam Nights on Urbanspoon