‘Ribs are a spiritual experience for me’ – Bill Rancic
Along with all the million other reasons why Newcastle is so great, that fact that the city now has more dining options than I’ve had marmite sandwiches these days warms my little blonde heart because I love my food.
We have programmes like Man v Food to thank for the latest injection of meaty, bbqy smoky emporiums, 3 adjectives that happen to be what I look for most in a restaurant so it was never going to be long before we tried out Rub Smokehouse & Bar which has just opened up where ASK used to be in the Gate.
I’m not sure how many branches you need to have to be classed as a chain but Rub in Newcastle is the 3rd branch to open in the UK (the other two being in Nottingham and Birmingham) and in a city that 5 years ago used to be overrun with red & white table clothed Italian Restaurants, they’re a welcome addition in my eyes. We decided to pay a visit on a Friday evening with my brother and sister-in-law, and more importantly fellow food connoisseurs, to get our Rub on.
Thanks for Katie from ladyfromatramp for letting me use her interior pics
From walking past a week or so before I knew it was brightly lit with a half diner, half 50’s malt shop kind of vibe. We’d reserved a table however needed have as the restaurant was only half full (it’s worth noting that it’s a very big establishment so would take quite a few bums on seats to be full) there were enough people to have a nice atmosphere. We ordered drinks straight away, pints for the boys, a pint of diet coke for me (i tend to prefer not to drink booze when I’m eating – need to savour the experience) and Ice Tea for Ruth which was bottomless (a popular concept with me!).
The menu is pretty extensive, it’s certainly a meat lovers dream and there’s plenty of different options to choose from whether it be a burger, a steak, a rack of ribs, a bowl of chili or a mammoth gargantuan Man v Food style eating challenge (which ins you a t-shirt if you are able to complete). If you did want to try and be healthy they do have salad options but are steep at between £8 and £12. We decided to share a starter so we could have a taste of everything; onion rings, cracklin, pulled pork nachos and loaded potato skins and rather conveniently there was 4 of everything which avoided any forks in the back of hands.
Mains we had a bit more eclectic. Dave and I both opted for sandwiches; BBQ Chicken Roll for him and the Kansas City Roll (which contains burnt ends – the meaty ends of beef brisket) for me, Ruth went for the mixed bean chili and Gary upped the ante with the brisket basket with a side of corn on the cob and some burnt ends.
On paper, it all looked amazing but in reality sadly everything fell a bit short for me. We waited almost an hour between starter and main course, even though as mentioned the restaurant was half full and there seemed to be staff hanging around with little to do a lot of the time. By the time the mains did arrive I’d almost gone past the point of hunger and the compilation of the greatest hits of the 80’s they were pumping out two notches too loud was starting to grate on me.
My sandwich was tasty enough, the meat was tender and succulent however was completely doused in their signature BBQ sauce to the point of being sickly. Ruth’s chili had a nice spicy kick to it but the beans were claggy with a weird texture. Worse offering had to be however Dave’s chicken sandwich which was essentially just a chicken mayo roll with a side of chips; completely underwhelming. Although our resident dustbin was perfectly content with his brisket and all the trimmings so at least that was a success.
Whilst the dessert menu looked like it could have been Rub’s opportunity to redeem it’s self, we’d been sat down listening to Bonnie Tyler for at least 45 minutes too long and were ready for our beds.
It’s a shame really. I really wanted to love this place, but everything was just OK nothing blew me away. I must point out that despite the food being slow the staff were excellent and attentive; the problem seems to be in the kitchen rather than the actual service. Rub have still got some work to do if they want to compete with ready established more local places like Longhorns and Hop and Cleaver offering a similar fayre they really can’t afford to be having teething problems.