Smokey Barrels, Yardley

We don’t want fine dining every day and there are times when pulled pork or a cracking burger hit the spot nicely, so we headed to Smokey Barrels for a bit of comfort food and got more than we bargained for.

The restaurant has a massive footprint and is decked out largely in wood with decoration hinting at the American smoke house vibe. We visited in the heart of World Cup fever which had gone down a storm. During England games the bar staff had to put on hold their beloved shakes as they’re all made from scratch and take too long to rustle up with such a packed bar. Happy days.

We cosied up in a banquette and perused the huge menu. The stateside feel was appealing and the menu followed this theme until we got to a random page of curries. It didn’t seem to fit, but perhaps the owners know their customer base and it’s what they want.

An Oreo freak shake was promptly ordered and boy, were we glad we’d settled for one between two. It was massive – there’s a theme here! Chocolately, creamy and er… Oreo-like, it was pretty moreish and a bit like having dessert before the main event. We began to feel a bit mean coming without the kids – they’d be in heaven.

I ordered calamari to start which was a bit flabby with a heavy batter and realised pretty quickly that meat is the strong point here. Why fight it? When in Rome and all that. The other half’s pork belly ribs coated in a sticky bourbon sauce with a hint of chilli were lip-smackingly good.

Classic Smokey Barrels burger was delicious. A charred bun encased a juicy patty with oozing cheese, plenty of gherkins and a good amount of tasty burger sauce. Sweet potato fries were fantastic – probably could have done with half the portion – and the crunchy slaw was all the things you want from a slaw. A side of pit beans was pleasantly smoky.

The brisket cooked low ’n’ slow for 12 hours was brilliantly good, but again a hefty portion. With a choice of sauces we plumped for BBQ. Sweet, sticky, smoky, tender – what’s not to love? Sides of pickles, an onion salad and slaw cut through the richness of the meat. We swerved dessert after the Oreo appetiser.

Although it’s a bit out of town Smokey Barrels is worth the trip on those days when you’re hankering after comfort food and good times in a relaxed environment.

SMOKEY BARRELS 1741 Coventry Road, Birmingham, B26 1DS. Tel: 0121 764 5519