Friday, October 19, 2012

Duke's Brew & Que: Achingly Cool, Wonderfully Good

Duke's is cool. Let me explain.

Since we moved to Dalston, John is always complaining that we don't do enough "cool" things. Problem is, we're not cool enough. I don't think he's come to terms with this yet, as he keeps asking me to find some "cool" places for us to eat or "listen to jazz". Case in point: I'm sure the phrase, "listen to jazz" is enough to make any hipster snicker at our uncool, seemingly straight-edge ways (he owns a folding bike, people. How can you be cool with a folding bike?).

Last time we ventured up Kingsland Road on a Saturday with Adeline in tow, we came across a "cool" party, which consisted of spoken word poetry performed in a growling voice that I could only imagine Satan himself possesses juxtaposed against a backdrop of psychedelic shapes and strobe lights played on a large projection screen, plus broken beer bottles littered all. Over. The. Ground. To complete this scene were a few Honey Buckets, looking as though they were about to tip. "My Mulberry doesn't feel comfortable here," I whispered to Adeline, as I pulled my handbag closer to my chest. That's how uncool I am.

Now, I'm not sure how many hipsters eat at Duke's Brew and Que because I frankly don't believe hipsters eat actual food. I'm pretty sure they just smoke and eat air instead. All of the staff at Duke's are hideously cool, very thin, and very attractive, which makes no sense because they are working at a rib and burger joint. I am also certain that none of them eat meat. When I left our dinner that night, my hair kind of smelled like grease and I looked bloated. The servers, on the other hand, didn't seem to break a sweat and continued on with their serene, smiling ways in the midst of a heavy crowd. If this kind of oxymoron frustrates you, don't go.

If you're okay with it, then you're in luck, because I'm pretty sure Duke's serves up the best barbecue I have ever had in the UK and possibly, in America. We went straight for the deep end and ordered ribs: beef for John and pork for me, plus a side of fried pickles and okra, which tasted positively sinful. As for the ribs, they were American in portion size (i.e. huge), and the meat was tender, falling off the bone. The accompanying, homemade sauces were tangy, smoky, and, yes, literally, finger-licking good. I loved the large, crunchy pickle served alongside and the slaw wasn't bad either.

And of course, we had to have dessert. Correction: I had to have dessert. I ordered a blondie with ice cream that kind of blew every dessert I've had recently out of the water. It was that good. And the best part? The bill didn't hurt. Always a plus.

The restaurant's not huge, so reservations are a must. And if you think you can simply appear on a Thursday or Friday night for dinner without booking ahead - it ain't gonna happen. Despite this, the tables are generously spaced, so you don't feel like you're chowing down on your neighbor's ribs too. That wouldn't be a pretty sight now, would it?

Duke's Brew & Que: 33 Downham Road, De Beauvoir Town, Hackney, London N1 5AA, 020 3006 0795

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