It comes to something when I am ashamed to say I have been a little slow in terms of climbing on the Hang Fire bandwagon. The dynamic duo of Sam Evans and Shauna Guinn have been taking Cardiff by storm for a good few years now on the street food and pop-up scene, have a national award to their names (‘Best Street Food’ – BBCR4 Food Awards 2015), and published their first cookbook last year.
Yet…somehow I have been in a #lovebbq free bubble…ok that’s not entirely true – both times I have sought them out at Street Food Festivals they have been sold out – that’s how good they are.
Affectionately known as the ‘The First Ladies of ‘Cue’ – Sam and Shauna ditched their jobs back in 2012 and decided to go on an epic 6 month road trip around the best barbecue joints in the southern US, learning the insider secrets. Even more epically they decided to bring everything they had learnt back to Wales – a country where on average it rains 170 days a year! I mean who doesn’t love a BBQ while it’s lashing down? A point that was proved at the recent Cowbridge Food Festival – ha ha!
Needless to say, opening a bricks and mortar restaurant was a ‘thankful’ inevitability and they have since set up residence in the stunning Grade II listed 19th Century Pumphouse in Barry…and it was here that I finally caught up with the Hang Fire wagon…
Dining with a large group, it was a great opportunity to experience a range of dishes from a menu, which quite frankly left you salivating at the thought of being presented with anything off of it. Divided up into sections, you can select from Southern soul food classics such as Gumbo (more to come on that one!) and Smoked Chicken & Waffles. There are a great range of low and slow hickory smoked BBQ dishes including St. Louis Smoked Ribs, and if you just can’t do without your steak or burger fix, Hang Fire have Wales’ first custom built Argentinian Asado Grill.
With appetisers ranging from £4.15 to £6.50, it seemed almost rude not to order a portion of Buffalo wings. With a choice of 3 different options of wings, and a unanimous vote taken by the group (no Hung ‘Fire’ Parliaments around here – ha ha ha…sorry I’m currently writing this on the 9th June!) the Korean BBQ was elected. Sticky and sweet with sesame seeds, spring onions and candied chillies…the only fault I could find was that we really should have ordered two!
In addition we also had a plate of ‘Piggybacks’ – pork crackling topped with pork shoulder that had been smoked for 21 hours and Pico de Gallo salsa. There isn’t actually enough adjectives to describe this plate of awesomeness, so I’ll just leave it there for you to admire.
To be completely honest, the lack of available adjectives continued throughout the rest of the dining experience, where just beautiful plates of amazingly cooked meat graced the table.
St. Louis Spare Ribs – smoked for 8 hours and then chargrilled – £17
Brazilian Picana Steak – 10oz medium rare steak with bone marrow butter and Argentinian Chimmichurri on the side – £18.75
However, while every plate was delicious, there were two dishes which deserve a special shout out. Up first we had the Creole Filé Gumbo – aptly appearing in the menu section named ‘South your Mouth’ (love it!) – this was a soul food special of slow and low cooked stew with jumbo shrimp, Hang Fire’s own Louisiana smoked sausage and ground sassafras leaves (Filé – a spicy herb). On ordering it did come with a warning that it would be spicy, nevertheless for our palates it was pure perfection in a bowl.
The other stand out, certainly for myself, was ‘Brisket & Burnt Ends’ – smoked for 12 hours and served on Texan toast with chips and pickle. While not cheap at £17, I considered the dish to be excellent value for money in terms of quality and quantity. I have to say the burnt ends which had been twice smoked were amazing. Tender hunks of brisket, they literally melted in your mouth, and I now understand why they are known as ‘Gold Nuggets’ in the BBQ world!
While I may have been a bit of a late adopter in terms of Hang Fire, I can safely say after this visit, I am now a big fan of ‘slow and low’. This is one ‘band’ wagon I will be staying on…horse saddled and harnessed, and moseying on into the BBQ love sunset…
- I love the story behind Hang Fire – Sam and Shauna are truly an inspiration on how to work extremely hard and go after your dreams. Amazing!
- Fantastic food and a very relaxed, comfortable and conceptual dining experience.
- A big shout out to Lisa – what an attribute to the Hang Fire team. Enthusiastic, helpful and ‘clued up’ about the dishes that we ordered. She even came ‘legging it’ after us, as she thought we had overpaid. Nope…that was your tip – ha ha!
Would I go again?
Yup…I surely would.
Would I recommend Hang Fire Southern Kitchen?
Yup…I surely would….wow, that was easy.
A fantastic restaurant and concept in South Wales, I did fall a little bit in love with Hang Fire. A reservation is essential though, we literally scraped in at 5.30pm as they were fully booked (a month before we wanted to go!). Check out their website for details on menus, bookings and opening times.
Address | The Pumphouse, Hood Road, Barry, CF62 5BE
Web | (Bookings) www.hangfiresouthernkitchen.com
Web | (Blog) hangfiresmokehouse.com
BLOG UPDATE – JULY 2017 | I have since been back to Hang Fire, and I can honestly say the return visit was just as good as the first. Fantastic service and such a great atmosphere – in addition I can now also highly recommend trying the Buffalo Smoked Wings, the Pit Boss Plate with Brisket, Texas Toast, St. Louis Ribs and Carolina-style pulled pork, and if you really fancy ‘pigging out’ the s’mores were amazing! The Moonshine was pretty darn good too – cheers!