Review of Chicago Rib Shack

There has been an influx of meat themed restaurants in Twickenham recently. More than likely this has something to do with the impending Rugby World Cup take over in a little under four months from now.

Chicago Rib Shack is one of these new ventures. It occupies the old Ales & Tales location on York Street. Established in the 80’s, it is a chain with two London restaurants and three food court sites dotted around the country.

Having eaten ribs plenty of times before on various trips to the US, I headed along one Friday night to see how the Brits compare. For additional support an American friend joined me.

We settled in with a couple of Raspberry Hard Lemonade cocktails (£7.50) which were refreshing and had a nice kick from the Haymans Old Tom Gin. The lemonade was homemade and was also available on its own without alcohol.

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While looking over the menu we snacked on the Bacon Popcorn (£2.50). It was tasty with just the right amount of salt.

We ordered a number of dishes to start. The Mac & Cheese bites (£6) were sensational. I was expecting bite size miniature snacks but three monsters came out. They sat on a thick and spicy tomato jam. They were cooked in the style of an arancini ball, perfectly crisp outside but with a creamy mac ‘n’ cheese inside. Just yum!

We then tried the Spicy Kiss Burger (£9). It was not your average burger. The meat was obviously very good quality and we liked the chipotle mayonnaise. The jalapenos gave it mild heat which was not overpowering. The butter lettuce leaf was a nice touch and the ever important gherkin? Well it was big, crisp and juicy. Full marks and it will definitely rate highly in next year’s best burger competition.

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Next was the Super Food Salad (£6/11). It had a long list of your favourite ‘on trend’ ingredients including kale, pickled cauliflower and avocado oil. It was served warm which we both really liked. The kale was soft and discreet which made for a nice change as it’s usually dry and tasteless. We liked the dressing; it was subtle yet present.

On to the main event, ribs! We ordered the Ribshack Top 4 (£34). A giant wooden board consisting of all the rib options on the menu. Baby back, Belly & Beef ribs and Pulled Pork. Your very own festival of meat right there in front of you.

While they were all very good, they were gently smoked in specialist ovens and the BBQ flavour seemed to come from the sauce and not the cooking process. The highlight was easily the Belly Rib, it had a very good meat to bone ratio. There was ample meat which flaked superbly off the bone. I liked the flavour, probably because I prefer HP sauce to ketchup, so if this is you, you wouldn’t be disappointed either.

I chose the Carlo Chiaro Malbec from Argentina (£28) which complemented the meat well and did not interfere with the flavours.

We enjoyed three sides with the ribs. Sweet potato fries (£4) which had amazing flavour from a very tasty spice mix. The Manslaw (£4) a creative take on coleslaw with chorizo and jalapenos, and last but by no means least, the Onion Loaf (£6). Think ‘blooming onion’ but a much messier version. It was my favourite dish of the night.

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The chef has worked long and hard to get it right. Thick cut onion rings, battered in garlic flour to add flavour with a few other secret ingredients thrown in. It was shaped into an ugly block and deep fried. It was a big, crunchy, respectfully oily, delicious mess.

To finish we shared two desserts. The Key Lime Pie with cream and the Belgian Chocolate, Bread & Bourbon Butter pudding with custard (both £5). Both were excellent however the Key Lime Pie really impressed us. It had exceptional flavour, good pastry and was sweet but did not leave us on a sugar high.

The Chicago Rib Shack is a great neighbourhood restaurant for locals and will more than satisfy the hungry World Cup Rugby crowd when they descend upon us this September.

Overall 7.5/10

Reservations – yes

Contact details here

How does Chicago Rib Shack describe itself? ‘We make good food for you. Great burgers, amazing ribs and succulent chicken is what to expect’.