Smokin’ Good And Not In The Big Smoke Either! | Brisket And Barrel, Sevenoaks
Brisket and Barrel, sounds like just another east-end hot smoke barbecue joint. But no, it’s all the way out in the ‘burbs – in Sevenoaks to be precise. ‘How the hell did you wind up in Sevenoaks?’ we hear you cry, well, actually purely by chance.
Our Sunday started in the usual lazy way – a coffee in bed and breakfast in front of the TV watching Sunday Brunch. Then out of the blue Saff told me to get a move on as we were going out, news to me but she’s the boss. The sun was shining and that often means a trip to one of our favourite local haunts – The Mount Vineyard in Shoreham. Not that it needs to be sunny now they have a retractable roof over their courtyard, a little like a miniature centre court at Wimbledon.
So long story short, whilst paying for our bottle of chilled Pinot Noir and charcuterie and cheese board, we spotted a flyer for Brisket and Barrel. After an obligitory little look at their social media pages (it’s oh so important that restaurants keep on top of their online presence) we decided to give it a whirl. Especially as St Johns Hill in Sevenoaks is a mere 10 minute drive from the vineyard.
Cousins Alexandre and Sebastien, the chefs behind this new project, are both skilled chefs trained in the Dordogne at one of the best catering schools in France. They have blended their knowledge of French cuisine with hot smoke barbecue techniques to create Brisket and Barrel – firstly with a successful pop-up at the Old Fire Station in Tonbridge and now a permanent location in Sevenoaks.
Chunks of beef brisket and a range of other meats including pork, chicken, mutton and homemade Toulouse sausages are coated in their own rubs before being slow cooked in a classic American ‘Ole Hickory smoker for up to 15 hours. The way the menu is ordered and paid for is a little different from what we’re familiar with – you wander up to the counter and order your meat per 100g, where it’s cut and weighed on scales supermarket deli style.
The sides on offer included a fresh new potato salad, a smoked beetroot salad, a potentially amazing mac and cheese (which I wasn’t allowed to order) and homemade brk + brl pit baked beans (which Saff wanted). Sides and salads cost £3 each, also on the menu are their St John’s rolls (made using croissant dough) served on their own for £1 or filled with either brisket or pulled pork for a fiver.
The online menu also showed that pork and beef ribs and chicken wings were available too but we didn’t see much evidence of this in the restaurant – then again we didn’t actually ask for them – apparently a big mistake according to twitter!
We ordered four slices of the coffee rubbed beef brisket (150g at £7 per 100g – so £10.50) and 100g of the slow smoked goat at £6 per 100g (£6, obvs) served with a little tub of chimichurri. A side of baked beans (three different beans with brisket off-cuts) and a St Johns roll to tuck some brisket into. It was obvious the meat is of excellent quality and as it’s smoked over oak-fuelled fire (for up to 15 hours), it was melt-in-your-mouth tender and packed with big and bold flavours – just as good as what’s dished up in a majority of their London counterparts. The beans were more tomatoey that BBQ, definitely needed more smoke and the St Johns roll, well that was light and sweet, a perfect foil for the smokey brisket.
Desserts could probably do with better presentation, all lined up and wrapped in cling film, a little like those displayed in the restaurant fridges at IKEA – not very enticing. Our visit was very much a flying one, in fact we were in and out in under 30 minutes, so next time we’ll go for more of a blow out and test drive some of their ribs and wings. We will also try to squeeze in a few beverages too from their well-selected range of craft beers and wines (including one from the Mount Vineyard.)
We really hope that Brisket and Barrel stands the test of time, we just worry that Sevenoaks isn’t quite ready for this quirky little BBQ joint. Alexandre and Sebastie, please prove us wrong!
Click here for their site
123 St Johns Hill, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 3PE
Telephone: 01732 453 934
Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday 9am – 10 pm
Nearest station: Bat and Ball Station (5 mins walk)