You know a culinary trend has reached its zenith when it's infiltrated the high end.
Having lived in America for almost three years, I was pleased to see a taste for BBQ-style grub come to Britain. I was slightly dismayed when it got aligned with the hipsters, who can sniff out a good thing for sure, but often tend to omit those they deem too uncool from their gang. This is infuriating at the best of times, but when it comes to food, it's unforgiveable.
Barbecue started its recent upturn in Britain as meat you'd scarf down by the side of a food wagon, moved onto various no-reservation pop-ups and has now reached the heady halls of Westminster where chef Jon Ingram is serving it to politicos, business types and other central London food lovers at his reasonably-priced new venture the Blue Boar Smokehouse.
It's an intriguing prospect - bespoke suit-wearers swapping delicately-plated gnocchi for a more fulsome plate of pulled pork, ribs or southern fried chicken.
But it's a welcome one. Anyone who's visited the southern United States will know how delicious these kinds of flavours are. These dishes have been unfairly marinaded with a street food brush here (though of course their lack of pretension is part of what makes it all taste so great), but they really are for everyone.
Ingram seems to understand that, which is why I was able to tuck into fecund homemade baked beans and tart coleslaw as part of my main course of pulled pork (I was tempted by the pulled lamb shoulder but had had slow-cooked lamb during the week).
While my meat was delicious, as was my dining partner's moreish glazed pork belly, I'll admit I could have done with a bit more sauce. Those of you who've been to a Stateside barbecue joint will know you need to wash your hands at least six times after a good meal to fully get rid of the stains.
But that was more than made up for with the puddings. Praline crème brulee was enough, but came with four bite-size chocolate doughnuts. The apple crumble had its own vanilla custard, but was also topped with clotted cream ice cream. It was, without doubt, a meal fit for an oversized American.
Ultimately though, I'm pleased that you don't just have to wait for a mobile food market or try your luck with the queues at the overrated Meat Liquor to get your hands on this kind of fare.
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