Red's True Barbecue in Manchester.A new barbecue restaurant was all the excuse I needed for a blowout. After a month of abstinence, inspired by a requirement to fit into trousers without an elasticated waistband, I decided that the opening week of Red’s True Barbecue was the perfect occasion to throw myself from the dieting waggon.

The restaurant was bustling, and the aroma of barbecuing meat raised my expectations of the feast to come. Red’s dining area is themed to resemble what British people might imagine a Louisiana bar-cum-eatery looks like, and the religious overtones on the menu and various paraphernalia were amusing and bizarre in equal measure.

From the ‘Little Plates’ menu, I ordered the Hush Puppies: deep-fried sweetcorn and jalapeño fritters with a fluffy cornmeal texture. A tasty starter, although the accompanying cheese sauce reminded me of cinema Nacho cheese. I also tried one of my friend’s Jumbo BBQ Wings. The large chicken wings were coated with a mild, sweet sauce and were a welcome departure from the small, soggy and tasteless specimens that you find in lots of similar eateries.

I decided to go big for the main course. The Bucket O’ Bones, however, was bigger than I could have imagined. A mix of all the ribs on the menu, it arrived in a metal container the size of an office bin. I started to doubt my resolve.

Unfortunately, the ribs were overcooked, dry and bland. A big let-down given the price-tag of £22.00. On a positive note, I tried my friend’s brisket, which I found to be tender and well flavoured – a better choice than the ribs. The side-order of grits was good and had the consistency and taste of polenta, but the coleslaw was plain and lacking in flavour.

Red’s was a disappointment. There’re a plethora of places serving barbecue-style food, and pulled pork is becoming as common place as fish’n’chips. I had hoped Red’s would be different and that I could relive the barbecue experience I’d had at Daisy May’s in New York, but while the décor was well thought out and impressive, the food was mainly uninspiring.

Would I return? Surprisingly, yes. The service was excellent, and given that this was the restaurant’s opening week, I’m hopeful that the food will improve in the future.

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