Buddy's44 Skirving Street,
0141 632 5417
£ – inexpensive
££ – mid-price
£££ – expensive
££££ – very expensive
Barbecue and burgers
Review published on 07/01/2013 © Sunday Herald
Picture the scene: it's dark, wet, pouring down, in fact. We're standing on a poorly lit street in Shawlands, Glasgow, facing a plate-glass window through which we can see racks of darkly delicious looking ribs, piles of pulled pork and freshly made burgers being draped across a grill. Flames are a-flashing. Staff are a-dashing. Well, more bumping into each other in a slightly chaotic style. A box-fresh and still shiny Bradley smoker sits in a corner like a visitor from Mars.
About a dozen people, including Roberto and I, are outside. There is no standing room left inside. In my hand I have a ticket bearing the number 25. How long it will take to get to 25 we have no idea, but we have already been here ages.
Roberto says, loudly, "Do you think there's a queue because they're really good or really slow?" From the crowd behind us comes a voice shouting, "Both." And everybody laughs.
Welcome to Buddy's. Glasgow's newest and possibly most spectacular food success. The first Scottish manifestation of the Man v Food phenomenon anyway and living proof that if you make it, and it actually tastes good instead of the usual average rubbish, people will come. And keep coming. Despite the fact you're hidden away down a nondescript side street. And despite the fact you haven't quite learned to cope with the relentless rush.
The queues are a daily occurrence, the waiting apparently well known to the Facebook crowd. The staff have the startled look of rabbits caught in the headlamps of success yet people clearly put up with it. Look around tonight. It's barely six o'clock and people are piling in the door. And from the chat most of them have been here before.
Why? Well, the ribs when we get them at £11 a rack are astounding. Smoked on that Bradley smoker - which is freely available from all good stockists but the first I've seen in Glasgow - the dry rub variety smack of cumin and are fiery with chilli, but the meat is soft, sweet and falling from the bones as in all the best cliches.
The sauced-up versions have the tenderness that comes from hours and hours of cooking but with a sweetly sharp, not cloying covering. The burger? Because if anything represents the cult of Man v Food - the hit cable television show celebrating everything fast and fun and American in food - it is the humble hamburger. We watch the burger patty being flattened out on the grill American style, then flash-grilled amidst the flames, before being put in a decent bun with home-smoked bacon and a cheese slice.
Crucially it is not towered or skewered with a cocktail stick or stuffed with the complete nonsense that almost every other burger joint thinks is compulsory. It tastes of grilled beef, and decent bread, with a hint of cheese and bacon. It is good. Simple but good.
We have pulled pork on another brioche like roll. In my hand it feels like it weighs about a pound. Stuffed with meat, smeared with what looks like mustard and served hot and moist. Good, but no cigar. Why not? Not only does the pork need seasoning, it needs a sharp, sweet, vinegary sauce poured over it to complement that soft porky taste. The slightest modification could lift this from better than average to superb.
Same with the mac 'n' cheese. American style, creamy, thick, but desperately in need of a little salt to bring the flavours out. But, hey, it's hats off to Buddy's for the huge amount of effort that is going into this operation. Oh, and for proving that while we all troop up to distinctly average eating places and hand over our cash without a grumble when something decent does come along we do recognise it. And are willing to queue for it. Great effort.