You’ve got to admire the enthusiasm of the team that have relaunched this Yates’ pub (formerly the Abbey) as a Deep-South-themed bar and restaurant. Rather than saying ‘let’s just shove a bit of pulled pork on the menu and be done with it’, they’ve gone the whole hog, offering everything from pulled pork, ribs and wings to lesser-seen bratwurst and brisket, plus lemon meringue and whoopie pies for pud: someone has done their homework. But no amount of bought-in Americana-through-the-ages and upbeat jukebox tunes can distract you from the fact that the food, when it arrives, is pretty poor. Barbecue ribs had good flavour but were too tough; slaw was crunchy but drowning in mayo; mac ’n’ cheese was stodgy and dry. As for cocktails, there’s selection of ‘smoky’ options, all with a thin glass lid, whisked away at the table to release the smoke: a nice bit of a theatre, certainly, but the concoctions themselves lacked finesse.
But service was good natured and the room buzzy with groups of after-hours office workers, many of whom had done the smart thing and stuck to cold bottled beers. I suggest you do, too.