The Red Dog Barbeque Saloon in Hoxton is one of currently five restaurants in the Red Dog chain. Michael Collins, who normally writes short stories for BugAdvisor, decided to visit and review in his classic literary style – and yes he forgot to take pictures!
To stroll through Hoxton’s trendy streets this past Saturday was to take a trip through Wells’ Time Machine; or was perhaps a minor exercise in revisionist history. It was a return to a London that seemed to bear none of Covid’s scars – a raucously exuberant city pulling itself out of the pandemic’s dark shadow, shoulders thrust out and confident. Drinking, cheering lads spilled out of bars onto the pavement; gaggles of sparsely-dressed selfieing girls roamed the streets; a man revved his customised Ferrari at the red light to the delight of onlookers, all under the gently warming late summer sun.
Our group’s destination was the Red Dog Saloon, a traditional southern US burger ‘n’ barbecue grill house occupying a corner of Hoxton Square. Upon entering it appeared that the bubble of post-pandemic normality extended here also; every seat was taken, and the place exuded a lively, young ambience. Once tabled (not the one originally booked – as our party had declined from six to four, we were hastily ushered to a recently-vacated four-seater near the entrance) and menued, we witnessed the lingering effects of Covid’s long-lasting impact on the service industry. Staff were short in number and clearly struggling to meet demand, bustling from table to table. It took over thirty minutes for our order to be taken, and only at this time were we informed that the build-your-own barbecue selection – one of the joint’s main selling points – was out of stock and unavailable.
Our drinks arrived fairly promptly, and our food not long after – although our server, perhaps pressed into front-of-house service due to a lack of staff – seemed unsure of the dishes and their recipient (‘Is this cheese?’ Asked one of our group, pointing to the as-yet unidentified Peanut Butter burger (£12.50 for single patty). ‘Because I asked for no cheese.’ No clear answer was forthcoming, until our original waiter appeared to clarify). The food, functional but warm and tasty, went down well – a variety of wildly named burgers and large waxy baskets copiously filled with French fries. The burgers were substantial. Your correspondent, in an abundance of confidence, carelessly ordered the alarmingly-named ‘Doomsday Device’ (£12.50 for single patty), which crammed on habanero and jalapeño chillies in eye-watering quantity. It was well-named. Reader, approach with care.
Food consumed and bill paid, we wandered back out into the night. The streets, packed with revellers, still seemed to mock the very idea of the pandemic and we joined the throng to resume our evening, full of belly but disappointed with the level of service, understandingly stretched as the staff were. It was a sobering reminder of the struggle that so many in the hospitality industry have had to face over the last two years; every ring of the till a minor victory.
We’d recommend going back to the Red Dog Saloon – but, for a while at least, not on a sunny summer Saturday.
Red Dog Saloon
37 Hoxton Square
London N1 6NN
Burgers, Chicken, Barbecue
£20 per head excluding drinks
Michael Collins has several short stories on BugAdvisor – you can read them here.