Cornish BBQ is a pretty new addition to the restaurant scene. It combines a style of cooking influenced by smokehouses in the southern United States with the British ideal of sourcing quality ingredients from local producers. It’s a style Cornwall is uniquely suited to. Surrounded by the freshest seafood, crops and livestock, Cornish restaurants have the best of all three at their fingertips. Combined with the local love of beach barbecues and doing things dreckly, smoking meat and fish low and slow is second nature.
Eddie Thomson has been pioneering the genre since opening Firebrand Bar & Restaurant in November last year. As head chef he’s constantly renewed the menu as he and his team have pushed the boundaries of what can be smoked reliably and consistently at a commercial restaurant.
Eddie has championed delicious but unusual cuts of beef which aren’t well known in this country. Smoked hanger and Denver steaks have made regular appearances on the ever-changing specials board, and the latter is now becoming a permanent fixture on the restaurant’s new meat plate. Evolving out of Mexican tapas, the Firebrand Meat Plate now includes a mouth-watering array of smoked meats. Southern fried wings sit along Firebrand’s trademark pulled pork, made from the rare breed pigs raised just down the road on the Penpont Brewery farm and fed on the waste mash from the brewing process. Complementing the beef, chicken and pork are slaw, house pickles, hot sauce and burnt end beans made with the tastiest offcuts of smoked brisket. And of course you get to choose between chips and sweet potato fries.
Eddie said: “The barbecue plate was already our best selling dish but we wanted to make it even better. Rather than just slow cooking everything we wanted to show more of the skill so some meat is smoked to rare and some on the bone to demonstrate more of the technique. Great barbecue isn’t purely about slow cooking stuff for 24 hours and then pulling it – though that tastes great too.
“Apart from the brewery pigs, the meat is all from Philip Warren. You can really tell with the rare Denver steak that it’s good quality, it’s not a cheap cut.”
We had to ask him – why is the meat plate not served on a, er, plate?
“It doesn’t look right and the tray is a bit more show stopping and grabs the attention,” explained Eddie. “We’re showing the quality of the meat on there.”
Hot sauce goes really well with all three meats but you can opt for one of Firebrand’s other sauces if you’re not keen on spicy food. All the pickles are made on a weekly basis so they’ll change depending on what’s in season.
“Mussels seemed to be really popular when they were on the specials board so we’ve added them to the starters, and all the starters are also available as mains which gives an extra four choices,” said Eddie.
“We’re going a lot more smokehouse rather than burger bar and trying to bring in a lot more dishes smoked to rare on the menu rather than just on the specials board. Everything’s authentically smoked in a ProQ.”
Eddie has plans to start running demos to show diners how to smoke their own meat to rare and finish it off on the barbecue, so look out for details.
The Firebrand Meat Plate is available from Monday 21 September for £15.95. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your table.