I’ve got a confession to make – I never made it to the previous Rib Nights. So when Ahmed mentioned that they were coming back for a couple of dates, with a limited capacity, I knew I had to try and get to one.
In a new location, this time Cafe Opus in the Ikon Gallery, the premise is pretty simple; two teams compete to be the best ribs of the evening, as voted for by the diners. To prevent any bias, the ribs are named team A or B and loaded up onto plates. If six hefty ribs isn’t enough to fill your boots, then there are also a pile of sides on offer too – namely fries and coleslaw.
Sponsored, in part, by spiced rum brand Sailor Jerrys, the night started of with a customary Pickleback. For those not familiar, the Pickleback is a series of two shots, usually Irish whiskey (Jamesons seems to be the favoured spirit of choice) and pickle brine/juice, shot one after the other. They made their way over here a few years ago and I’ll admit to being a fan of the Pickleback; the stark contrast of the slightly sweet yet alcoholic kick of the whiskey followed by the salty pickle brine pleasantly ambushes the tastebuds. Or at least does after the you’ve had more than one…it’s always the second one that gets you hooked. But for this one it was Sailor Jerrys and complementing pickle juice, and whilst the flavours complemented each other well, it just didn’t have that same kick for me.
Anyway, ribs. I start off with Team A’s ribs, which turned out to belong to Smoke and Spice BBQ, hailing from Banbury in Oxfordshire. These were the drier of the two ribs, which is no bad thing in my books, and I enjoyed the flavours with a nice smokiness and bite to the meat. Team B, also known as Crackerjack BBQ, were an all together different affair with a messier, sweeter sauce and I was unlucky enough to get some really fatty ribs which seem to have a lot less meat than Team A’s. I don’t mind a bit of fat on my ribs, but I wanna taste the ribs, which is pretty much how I feel about loads of sauce too.
For me it was a clear winner of Team A, due to the meatiness of the ribs I was given and their smokiness. The popular vote and therefore winner was for Team B (Crackerjack BBQ), although a Michelin-starred chef was also in attendance and tweet to say his vote was for Team A too, so that made me feel better!
Sadly this is one of the last Rib Nights, nearly two years after it began. However you’ve still got time to make it to one – there’s a final event on Sunday 15 November 2015 and tickets can be bought via Design My Night.
Disclosure: I paid for my own ticket to Rib Nights. So there. Also, I’m pretty sure pickle juice is an antidiuretic, which is why the hangovers on them never feels as bad to me.