The now-closed Smokehouse on Leicester’s Braunstone Gate was a favourite of Great Food Club members. So a warm welcome for Fenways in Loughborough, which sees the return of Smokehouse chef Liam Watson and his bold and hearty take on American barbecue.
Big and fun where The Smokehouse was small and intimate, Fenways retains popular dishes such as tender smoked ox cheeks, smoked brisket, St Louis cut ribs and “hush puppies” (cornmeal fritters with jalapeno and smoked onions). Meats are smoked and marinated for up to 12 hours and cooked long and slow, while burgers are from 28-day aged beef and served in traditional English manchet rolls.
Buttermilk fried chicken is another standout, while veggies can look forward to creative dishes such as BBQ tandoori cauliflower with crispy jalapeno, and paneer bhajis and green masala sauce, or house-smoked peppers stuffed with tomato and aubergine and topped with goats’ cheese. Side orders and garnishes such as house pickles and fennel and jalapeno ‘slaw also impress.
You are urged to “come hungry” and if you can make it through the sizeable starters and mains, there are excellent homemade deserts such as Watson’s legendary salted caramel toffee pudding.
Fenways is part of the Orange Tree group of bars and features a wide range of funky cocktails and craft beers. With a young and enthusiastic front-of-house team, a great soundtrack and regular live music nights, it channels the spirit of the American roadhouse and knocks the big chains out of the park.
By Tim Burke, Leicestershire editor