Rusty’s Smokehouse 4.5/10
Value for money: 4/10
Venue & Atmosphere: 5/10
Note: No alcohol or pork served on the menu. This restaurant is not listed as a HMC certified restaurant
Birmingham was my home for almost 5 years. It is here where I started to explore different types of halal cuisines, and here where I consequently worked up the courage to start writing about my experiences by creating The Halal Plug. When I was invited back for a reunion with my Masters colleagues one Saturday I decided to make a weekend of it, to see what new eateries Birmingham had to offer. Naturally, the best place to start would be Ladypool Road, aka Halal food central.
It’s amazing how in the space of the year things could change along one street! Where one place had shut down, another 3 or 4 restaurants had cropped up in their place. It was going to be a tough choice to decide where to visit for our Saturday night feast.
The main establishment which had opened along Ladypool Road was Rusty’s Smokehouse. It was a massive restaurant with attractive branding and lights, and a fantastic Western-style interior, with walls plastered in colourful number plates. Now, it is at this point that I must be honest and say that a couple of people had given me mixed reviews on Rusty’s, but me being me, having always learnt the hard way, I took a seat with ShakerFries, and hoped that my fellow Instafriends visited on Rusty’s ‘off-day’.
I am actually so disappointed with this place that I am going to be brutally honest. The first thing that stood out to me were the steak prices. They were more expensive than those steaks served in London’s top steak places like Meat Co. To pay £60 for a tomahawk steak on Ladypool Road, when you have the likes of Ibrahims and Toros just a few doors down, seems totally unacceptable to me, not to mention unaffordable for your target market. I am well aware that the steaks are matured and dry-aged, but even EAT MEAT in Manchester served us up a 60 day dry aged steak for around £23. I was so outraged that I didn’t even entertain the thought of trying a steak.
We decided to get a starter, as the ‘CocaCola glazed’ chicken wings with coleslaw seemed like a weird and wonderful option. The wings arrived rather promptly, topped in what appeared to be a pile of raw chopped onions. After sifting through this, we each grabbed a wing. The taste of the CocaCola was subtle, but that was about the only taste these wings had. Despite the wings being meaty and tender, they lacked any type of flavour bar the hint of Cola. We were so hungry at this point that we finished them, but I felt a bit cheated, because as it was a novel concept, I was expecting great things. The coleslaw, although creamy was also seemingly tasteless, and after 2 bites I didn’t want to indulge in them any further.
Onto the burgers. It was £9.95 for a meal which includes a burger, fries, coleslaw and a refill soft drink which isn’t terrible. I opted for the pulled beef burger and ShakerFries opted for the beef patty topped in smoked beef brisket. The burgers also arrived rather promptly. At first glance you think you’ve got it good. The burgers looked amazing with massive American style portions, all served up in what can only be described in a baking tray. I have no problem with that. Fries were nice and crisp, and there were enough of them, which is good because after tasting the burger I needed a saving grace.
My burger was lukewarm at best as I held it ready for my first bite. The beef, although pulled, was NOT tender, was completely tasteless, and in fact was surprising chewy. I wouldn’t normally say this, but there was too much meat, and not enough condiments. The brioche was so soggy and stuffed that it disintegrated in my hands. After a couple of bites I felt so sick with the chewy meat overload that I looked over to ShakerFries and told him I couldn’t do it. His burger was marginally better. The beef patty was a ‘safer’ choice, and although the patty was massive, it was super dense and overcooked. I believe ShakerFries compared it to biting into a piece of rubber. There was a lot of the smoked beef brisket in the burger, which to me was just a fatty, tasteless slab of meat.
Now I know that Rusty’s claim to serve high quality, matured meat, but to me it just seemed as though they served a lot of meat with no quality at all. If that wasn’t enough of a disappointment there was also a huge lack of flavour. I’ve bitten into enough burgers to know when I’ve been done over, and whilst I can’t fault the atmosphere (it was relatively busy even at 9.30pm), service, or portion size, it all seemed redundant as the food experience was that bad.
I’m not normally this harsh, I mean look at my other posts. I’m just upset because it feels that Rusty’s have created this amazing branding and interior and completely missed the point. It was all bark and no bite. Having chosen one of the cheapest options on the menu, our bill came to around £30, which genuinely felt like money down the drain. I left feeling rather ill and unsatisfied. Having almost always enjoyed my dining experiences in Birmingham, this was quite a shocking disappointment. Note to self, listen to your fellow instafriends. When I left the restaurant, I was inundated with messages like ‘Why did you go there?!’ Followed by stories where customers had complained to the chef who responses was that they ‘had a disease of the heart which is why they couldn’t enjoy the food’ or ‘that they didn’t understand what good quality, aged meat tasted like’. Outrageous. Don’t go here. Don’t waste your money. Go to SLAM burger, spend a fiver, and be happy.
Address: 344- 348 Ladypool Road, Birmingham, West Midlands, England B12 8LQ
Tel: 0121 248 6875