Red Dog South in Clapham
South London will be smoking this summer: Red Dog Saloon, the Hoxton-based restaurant serving Kansas City inspired barbecue dishes, has opened a sister site on Bedford Road, behind Clapham High Street. Red Dog South certainly looks and feels like an authentic rib shack, boasting wooden flooring, wall panels and furniture. Embellishments of overhead fans, framed photographs of America’s Deep South, mounted bull horns, retro sports signs and an impressive ceiling pattern of embossed tiles all elevate the rustic décor.
An attractive bar adds further appeal and the drinks list is more than adequate: milkshakes, floats, beers, cocktails, shots and wine. We took our seats in the adjacent dining area, ready for a sticky, finger-lickingly good lunch of hickory-smoked meat and fish. Braver appetites may find the tear-inducing Hot Wings or the ominously titled Devastator challenge to their preference, but we were content to order pit-cooked mains and a selection of side dishes.
A fillet of Blackened Salmon, darkened with a magnificent rub of peppery spices, was expertly cooked and delicious. It was complemented by an exceptional Mac & Cheese – albeit poorly presented without a baked skin – and a thick and juicy Hot Links (a heavily seasoned, spicy American sausage), which was far milder and saltier than anticipated.
A bland Coleslaw of thin cut cabbage and carrots was cast aside in favour of crunchy French Fries – enjoyed with an enormous rack of St Louis Cut Ribs (spareribs with the tips removed). Disappointingly, not all the flesh fell off the bone and some bites were quite tough. The dry rub over the meat was excellent and created a charred mahogany bark but the pleasure of a viscous, caramelized sauce was sorely missed. Instead, our table held a rack of three house sauces, for us to drizzle as desired.
Kansas City, the restaurant’s signature concoction of molasses and tomato, is the closest to a traditional barbecue sauce but was too runny and sweet for our palette. North Carolina, a blend of vinegar and tamarind, was acidic and flavoursome, but eating ribs with a watery glaze was jarring. The final offering, Sweet ‘n’ Spicy, had a tasty mustard kick that was superb with Hot Links but less appetising with ribs.
Creamy milkshakes (Vanilla and Banana & Peanut Butter) and cold desserts were both scrumptious. Key Lime Pie had a moreish cheesecake-style filling with candied lime rind over a biscuit base, and Mississippi Mud Pie sandwiched vanilla bean and chocolate ice cream atop a crush of Oreo cookies with pecans and caramel.
Red Dog South is a comfortable hideaway for drinks, lunch and dinner, in a convenient and accessible location. The pretty terrace and al fresco dining area wouldn’t look out of place within the vibrant square of Covent Garden and a toe-tapping soundtrack helps to create the relaxed, lazy vibe that’s synonymous with barbecue culture in the USA. Southern hospitality has officially arrived in Clapham and there’s much to appreciate about this newcomer to the neighbourhood.
Red Dog Saloon: 49/60
Photos: Rob Brazier
To book a table at Red Dog South, 27-31 Bedford Road, London, SW4 7SH, call 0203 714 2747 or for further information visit here.