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Kingdom of Bahrain
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Barbecuing is more than just throwing a slab of meat smothered in sauce on a hot, fiery grill. It’s about the cut of meat, the level of heat and the special seasoning. You can go for a saucy mix or a dry rub, but either way you slice it, all the top pitmasters will tell you it’s all about how you grill it.
All you need to do to get that perfectly smoked, melt-off-the-bone brisket or rib is to cook it on an indirect heat on a wood fire, low and slow. That’s the way to go.
Barbecuing is an art form that is treasured by many and for some grill gurus, countries and states, it’s a sense of pride. Take Texas for example. The Lone Star state is cattle country and it is all about the beef. There are more than 2,000 barbecue joints across the state alone and food lovers flock there from around the world to feast on their famous mesquite grilled brisket and barbecue ribs.
Luckily, carnivores across the kingdom will not have to travel far to sample authentic Texas-style barbecue as there is a smoke-house haven located in Best Western Plus-The Olive Hotel in Juffair.
The Big Texas Barbecue & Waffle House was cooked up by three American friends, Bryan Malone, Rad Cox and Mildred Rayos, who craved a taste of home and wanted to share their family favourites, Southern-style barbecue and hospitality with the people of Bahrain.
“We wanted to offer a bit of Americana and Southern hospitality to the food lovers in the kingdom,” said Bryan, the managing partner, who handles the smokers that supply the meat’s rich flavours. “We want people to feel like they are at home and to be able to appreciate the foods we grew up with and love.
“We only use the best quality ingredients and meats because we want to serve our guests nothing but the best. For a lot of people that dine with us, they feel like they are back in the US and everyone here is family.”
While the brisket reigns supreme, the giant country cookout-style restaurant featuring grand wooden tables, comfy booths, brick pillars and an industrial-inspired interior, also offers authentic American delights that most people would never dream of devouring in Bahrain.
From the moment we swung open those doors, we felt at home as savoury scents wafted in from the smoker and the kitchen
Deep fried pickles, smoked beef sausage, chicken and waffles and hush puppies which is a golden brown ball of deep fried cornmeal, onion and corn are just some of the best bites on the menu and diners can have a taste of it all at the venue’s Friday brunch cooked up by American, Italian, German executive chef Matthew Capozzi and his culinary team.
“Our brunch, which starts at 11am until 4pm, is like a small town throw down every Friday,” said Bryan. “We offer the widest variety of beverages, food and barbecue including all the signature dishes from back home that you might not be able to get around town, like green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole. We even offer up brisket sandwiches, burgers, chicken and chicken sandwiches and a vegetarian option made to order.
“Our five hour brunch is also like a party. We have karaoke that goes on after 1pm as well as acts to entertain guests and DJs. We try and change things up a little bit every week but we always make sure the greatest hits such as the macaroni and cheese and brisket are there.
“This brunch is geared towards both the professional eaters and the rookies starting out. The rookies tend to drop off early but the professionals leave at four and sometimes, I don’t know how they do it, stay until 6pm.”
It’s no surprise that people would stick around for Chef Matthew’s bountiful buffet as the Culinary Institute of America graduate, who majored in French fare, specialises in American, Eastern Coast and Italian cuisine. In fact, he said that he learned Italian from the greatest Italian cook in the world, his mum Carmelita.
My husband Sam and I have dined at the 125-seater venue before and while he may have sweet dreams about their brisket, the apple of my eye is the macaroni and cheese. I loved it so much that I had dubbed it the best on the island and when I found out it was dished up at the brunch, you best believe I packed my bib, put on a loose fitted dress (to hide the food baby after the meat massacre) and set off with Sam to put the buffet to the test.
Savoury and smoky scents wafted from the kitchen from the moment we walked into the restaurant. We plopped ourselves at a table in front of the stage to watch the action while we feasted and scoped out the several television screens in the sports lounge that were playing music videos and the latest games. There was a miniature train chugging around a track adding a touch of Home Alone movie magic.
It wasn’t long before, Sam and myself, including Jalal Muradi, GulfWeekly’s marketing manager, and photographer Honey Sharma, made our way to the big buffet that would have made American TV show host of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy Fieri, drool with delight.
While the salads looked refreshing and zesty, it was the sweet potato casserole, garlic mash, macaroni and cheese and turkey that I was after. The turkey was festive and tasty and the sweet potato had a great cinnamon punch. Sam couldn’t get enough of the chicken barbecue and the beef. The pièce de résistance though was the brisket. At Big Texas, they smoke their beef for 14-16 hours for a sensational smouldering taste. It’s a Kansas City classic. You all know that I never pass on desserts and waffles but this brisket took the cake and was well worth it!
Like Arnold Schwarzenegger said, I’ll be back, and you best believe we will! The brunch is priced at BD25 net and there is a discount for military, Aramco, air crew, Bapco and teachers with ID. Reservations in advance are advised.
Aside from the scrumptious soul food on Friday, the restaurant also offers Wings & Wisdom Trivia night Wednesday’s and Tex Mex Tuesdays.
Breakfast is served daily starting at 5.30am. The restaurant is also open daily from 5.30am to 2am and features the musical styling of Grammy Award nominee Rusty Golden five-times a week from 8.30pm-11.30pm.
For details, contact 17360063 and follow them on Facebook @bigtexasbbq for future events.