April 17, 2013

Hang Fire Smokehouse @ at The Canadian in Splott: Restaurant Review

A few weeks back I heard rumors of a new American style BBQ start-up in Cardiff.  Hang Fire Smokehouse put on BBQ nights at The Canadian - a pub I'de never heard of in Splott. The Canadian is a Brains pub, but when we walked in the bartender(ess) was super friendly and chatty - I later learned it was her pub.  It didn't feel like cookie-cutter brains - it felt like a lovely local.  There was an eclectic mix of people there - locals and hipsters all chilling out on comfy sofas and tables.

I was very excited to meet Sam and Shauna (the minds behind the BBQ), though I now forget which one I met!  Either way the story goes they traveled around America to learn good cooking, and came back to Wales to share the knowledge. The menu was PERFECT for BBQ - 5 items, simple and delicious.
I ordered the BBQ pulled pork sandwich with a side of meaty bbq beans, while the brewer half ordered ribs with chips and beans.  We were given some pigs and waited for our meals
Unfortunately the Canadian had a somewhat uninspiring selection of beers - Budweiser is wonderful with BBQ but the Brewer half was saddened by the lack of Ales. I was chatting with the owner and made a short list of my favourite american beers, and she said she would look into stocking them, so I have high hopes of better beers to come! The owner lady (I forgot her name!) was truly keen to have my suggestions, and was such a lovely lady I would even stay to drink bud :-)  Here's my list of suggested beers:
I know they probably can't get Shiner Bock in Cardiff, but I put it on the list anyways.

Our food started coming out about 20 minutes later, my pulled pork sandwich came first:
The pork was brilliant.  Soft and sweet, melt-in-your-mouth.  Chunky in parts and soft as butter in others, I almost lamented eating the bread as I could have happily eaten just a massive bowl of pork.  The sauce was delicious, and homemade.  I think I wolfed it down too fast to fully remember, It tasted nothing like the bottled sauces I've grown accustomed to.  It was rich and slightly sweet but with a bit of a bite - brilliant!  I even tried the cole slaw (even though I detest mayonaise) and it was so much better than I expected - crunchy and fresh with nice amounts of onion - the best slaw I've ever tasted. 

Brewer half's ribs came out second:
Brewer half is a hungry boy, so I only had the smallest taste of the ribs, however they were amazing!  I loved how they melted off the bone... I think proper southern BBQ can be a bit too chewy for me but this was tender without being overcooked.  I mentioned this to our chef and she said that British people tend to like the food a bit more cooked than southerners - so they had changed their recipe to fit the Cardiff tastes.  I think this is an improvement - normally I'm not a huge fan of ribs but when I next visit I'll certainly be ordering this dish!  The beans were stellar as well - I've gotten used to heinz but forgot the magic that happens when you combine beans and meat and spice and cook it all slow and low until it tastes like heaven in a styrofoam cup.  These beans were just that, heaven.

Ben ordered the pulled pork plate:
Same pulled pork as my sandwich, chips and beans to accompany.  Here's how good it was:
Them's some clean plates!  

Hang Fire is a unique new venture for Cardiff.  The chef was so friendly and excited - chatting to everyone who came thorugh the door.  She made everyone feel welcome and like she was expecting you for dinner - the food came out like she was serving to friends, not serving at a resturant.  It was all served on paper plates with wooden sporks, which is exactly how every good BBQ joint I've been to does it.  The price is right for good quality and tasty food, and it's great to see food ventures popping up in Cardiff.  I can definitely tell big things are on the way for Hang Fire Smokehouse!

I loved the relationship between The Canadian and Hang Fire.  The Canadian had such a nice setup and it really did have the feel of a lovely local.  They had some local bands on as well which just added to the ambiance - the stage area was nice because it was far enough away from some of the tables that we could eat and chat yet still have some good background tunes.  It was a nice mix of covers and original songs, and I did have a homesick moment as the singer crooned Tom Petty while I munched pulled pork.

If I can't be in America eating southern BBQ, I may as well be at The Canadian eating Hang Fire Smokehouse. Yum!

The Canadian
Pearl Street, Splott
CF24 1PN
02920 453141

Hang Fire Smokehouse

Edit: I just had an email from Catherine at The Canadian to let me know that they've managed to get some fine American beers!  They've got Anchor Steam (MEGA YUM!) and Blue Moon (it's brewed by coors but posh like Europe!) and Brooklyn Lager (as far as I remember it's exactly what American lagers are known for, which isn't always good, but isn't always bad either!).  What an awesome pub to pull in beers just because a chatty American asks for them!

Edit 2: For more photos of BBQ check out the photopost HERE.


  1. brooklyn lager is great!!! one of my favourites

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