Look, if I’m honest, Red’s True BBQ, the barbecue joint with “Let There Be Meat” emblazoned on their windows, isn’t my first option when I’m on the hunt for a good vegan dinner. In fact, it wasn’t even on my radar whatsoever until I saw a tweet about this event and my ears immediately pricked up because, well, free food innit.
I got invited to try out some of Red’s new menu options by Rhianna Olivia, who is actually one of my fave bloggers (even though she doesn’t really blog anymore because she’s a bit busy being a marketing queen for Red’s). She had promised there would be some vegan options, so I packed up my baby and my only mate in Leeds and headed for the Call Lane restaurant.
I’m mostly focusing on the food in this review, but if you’re wondering about the restaurant itself; it was busy, fairly loud, warm but not uncomfortable, literally all the employees were amazing and went above-and-beyond, and it didn’t actually smell like meat. It smelt like barbecue, but not meat, which I was very pleasantly surprised about.
Also, Remy was given crayons and Mac & Cheese and totally fussed over by the wait staff which was lovely. Little things like that really make a difference!
Me and Emma were both given an absolute feast of 2 starters and 2 mains each, and although I don’t want to give too much of a platform to the meat options, I will say that Emma really enjoyed the Honey Bourbon Pork Belly starter. She also spoke highly of the ribs, and the pork belly main, for anyone who’s interested.
ONTO THE GOOD SHIT. My starter of Popcorn Jackfruit was without a doubt the best jackfruit I have ever eaten in my life. I’ve only ever eaten it in the style of ‘pulled pork’, which is kinda the lazy way for restaurants to appeal to vegans these days (imo). But Red’s made it taste like chicken, which I have never seen done before and it was honestly incredible. I think the chef said they freeze dry it, or dry it out somehow for like 30 minutes so it’s not as juicy. So these were like southern fried chicken nuggets, and they were served with an amazing Louisiana sauce – I would genuinely go back to Red’s purely to order 2 or 3 plates of this.
I then moved onto my ‘Meat Free Tray’, which was sort of disappointing after the starter. I really like the effort that has been put into this dish, in the sense that Red’s have a popular ‘Pitmaster Tray’ full of meat, and this has been made to replicate that in a way. It’s really nice to see that they’ve made an effort to not leave vegans out, and not just lump them with a veggie burger. However, for me it didn’t work. The Lime & Coriander cauliflower steak just tasted like cauliflower, and I’m not the biggest cauli fan at the best of times. I’ve had cauliflower wings and buffalo cauliflower in the past and really enjoyed them, but this didn’t do it for me. The tofu crackling was great, and like I said, really cool that they attempted to replicate a typically meat option like that. The pulled jackfruit was similar to most pulled pork jackfruit I’ve tried, barbecued and fairly tasty, and the corn on the cob and fries were delicious! I loved dipping the fries in all of the Red’s own-recipe sauces that they have on the table – the Triple Six was my favourite.
Next, I tried their Moving Mountains burger. I’ve never actually had the Moving Mountains patty before, but I’ve only heard good things so I was super excited about this! It was served with their Unholy BBQ sauce, vegan cheese, vegan mayo, onion, pickled gherkins and lettuce, and it was fucking delicious. SO good. I rarely order cheeseburgers when I’m eating out but I think I need to start because this was an experience, I absolutely loved it. The cheese and mayo both tasted really good, I’m not entirely sure what cheese they use but it was bomb.
Finally, we split a couple of sides; the House Salad was nothing to shout about, it’s good if you like salad but I wouldn’t usually order that. The Charred Broccoli Carolina was insanely good, me and Emma were both honestly shook because we didn’t know broccoli could taste so nice. It didn’t even taste like broccoli?? Would 100% order this again. Emma also loved the Grilled Baby Gem Hearts but they were way too salty for me – they did come served with a Corn Chimmi that I devoured though.
All in all, I was really pleasantly surprised by the vegan options! They seem to have really put a lot of thought into the kind of things that most vegans actually like to eat, plus some of these dishes were so good that I genuinely think omnivores would enjoy them regardless, especially that Popcorn Jackfruit ok I will never stop talking about it. Some of the dishes could do with a few tweaks, but the thought is definitely there, and after meeting some of the members of the team, I can tell they’re all super passionate about the food and will hopefully take feedback on board.
Thanks again for the invite, Red’s, we had a lovely time x