Authentic Tastes and Southern Hospitality at Hickory’s Smokehouse in Horbury

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Promising authentic tastes of the Deep South, the first Hickory’s Smokehouse venue opened its doors in Chester back in 2010. This barbecue-style restaurant was a huge success; there are now 14 Hickory’s Smokehouse restaurants scattered around the UK.

Having successfully wowed an endless number of diners in the North West, Midlands and North Wales, they’ve finally brought their southern USA hospitality and mighty meat offerings to Yorkshire! Hickory’s Smokehouse Horbury opened just three months ago and we’ve been eager to visit ever since. Avid carnivores with a strong love for family-friendly restaurants that combine a fun ambience with lengthy and varied menus of deliciousness, it sounded right up our street!

After weeks of drooling over their Instagram posts, we headed over to Horbury last Friday for our very first Hickory’s Smokehouse experience…

Now, I’ve been to a few barbecue-style restaurants over the years. I’ve eaten ribs, brisket, pulled pork and fried chicken at big chain restaurants and local independents but none have blown me away. Such dishes vary considerably from place to place, and, as I’ve never been fortunate enough to embark on a culinary road trip in the USA, it has always proved difficult to rate authenticity. The founders of Hickory’s Smokehouse, however, have made an incredible 18 trips; socialising, eating and doing their research in more than 70 towns and cities. As their dishes are all inspired by the flavours, techniques and people they encountered on their trips to foodie hotspots such as New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, Houston, Austin, Kentucky, New York and many more, authenticity at Hickory’s Smokehouse is pretty much guaranteed.

My first impressions of this exciting new addition to the Wakefield restaurant scene were positive ones. The building itself looks like a movie set with its southern-style cladding and we were instantly greeted with the sounds of happy children making the most of the restaurant’s outdoor play area. Upon entering, I gave our names to the cheerful staff in the reception area and were promptly led to a large circular table situated right in the centre of the restaurant.

The first thing I noticed was the lighting. I detest bright lighting when dining out (despite needing it to boost my embarrassing photography efforts) so the warm lighting in Hickory’s was ideal. The next thing that struck me was the jovial atmosphere. Looking around, everyone seemed to be having a thoroughly good time. The staff were smiling, diners were happily tucking into mounds of meaty goodness between animated conversations and, even those wandering back from the toilets seemed high in spirit!

That is when I realised that Hickory’s Smokehouse is about so much more than food. They have created a destination restaurant where families, couples and even lone diners can come together to unwind and soak up the sounds, smells and chilled vibes of the southern states. A truly remarkable ambience that I have never experienced before.

My plus one was one of my closest friends, Jaclyn, and we both noted how much our children would love the place. Children really are catered for tremendously well. The outdoor play area boasts excellent wooden play equipment and there’s even a mini cinema inside – an absolute blessing for those of us whose children eye up our meals after rapidly devouring their own.

Our server, Shane, was equally as jolly as the other people in the restaurant and served us with warmth, enthusiasm and a welcome dose of banter. To kickstart our experience, we ordered a couple of drinks to help wash down the free popcorn which had been waiting for us at our table – a lovely gesture and one which was most appreciated after our journey over from Skipton. I chose a Classic Margherita and my friend, who was the designated driver, chose a Grape Soda.

It is my understanding that blackcurrant drinks aren’t really a thing over in the states and Grape Soda is their alternative. Sweet, fruity and ice-cold, it was a refreshing way to start the meal for my friend, even if it did taste absolutely nothing like her favourite Malbec.

My cocktail was equally as delicious. Made using their own unique cocktail base, the slush-style Margherita was a perfect balance of sweet and sour and had just the right amount of salt around the rim of the glass.

My friend has previously visited Hickory’s Smokehouse in Chester and knew what to expect from the menu. I, like always, had scrutinized the menu online before arriving so also knew what to expect. Choosing our dishes still required quite a bit of deliberation as there is much on there that appeals to both our palates. We both like our meat so, for the main, we simply needed to choose which meat we wanted. Choosing starters, however, was an arduous task.

With offerings like Jumbo Wings, Baby Back Ribs, Fried Pickles, Corn Dogs and Buttermilk Fried Chicken all making us salivate profusely, we’d happily have ordered the lot just to sample a bit of each. Being the well-behaved and restrained individuals that we are (ha!) we both went for chicken – Jumbo Lousiana Hot Wings for Jac and Buttermilk Fried Chicken ‘In a Basket’ for myself. Shaun promised me that both were superb choices and that the Fried Chicken was even better than that made by a certain white-haired gentleman from Kentucky.

He wasn’t wrong! Served on skewers with crispy homemade tortilla chips and a sweet buttermilk and honey dip, it was incredibly good. I gleefully munched away on two of my skewers and reluctantly gave Jaclyn the third.

Deciding on main courses was far easier than choosing starters, Not because there’s not much to choose from – the menu is extensive and varied – but Jaclyn was craving steak and the fantastic restaurant manager, Adam, had talked us through the menu in detail, highlighting the fact that they offer a platter comprising various cuts of meat. This was my chance to try numerous menu dishes at once (for reviewing rather than to feed an insatiable appetite).

Jaclyn ordered the Cowboy Steak and it arrived with a generous portion of crispy fries, a grilled mushroom, a chargrilled jalapeño and some silky peppercorn sauce.

Much to my dismay, she had ordered her steak “As rare as you can get without it mooing” so I didn’t ask to taste it. She assured me that it was cooked to perfection, beautifully tender and had made our meal together one of the best meals she had had in a long time. Sound good? Sold on the steak? Hold that thought…

A somewhat ambitious choice for someone of 4’11’ who can never finish a main course, I ordered The Smokehouse Platter. Priced at £49.99, it is usually a dish designed to share between two people but the staff very kindly made me a platter for one.

When it arrived, it didn’t look like it was for one; unless it was for one Tyrannosaurus Rex. A gigantic portion of meat with tasty-looking sides was placed before me and, not one to miss an opportunity to torment, I immediately sent a photograph to my husband.

Okay, so what was on the platter, you ask? What wasn’t! All of their most popular meaty mains were included plus skin-on fries, house slaw, pickles and a mini bucket of Tennessee Bourbon Gravy for pouring or dipping.

The different kinds of ribs, slow-smoked chicken wings, signature beef brisket, Smoked Pork, Cheese and Jalapeno Sausage and hand-pulled pork were all delicious. Three of the components, however, really stood out for me in terms of flavour.

Cooked for 16 hours in an enormous smoker shipped over from the USA (we were lucky enough to be able to visit the kitchen and see the process ourselves), it was succulent, tender and beautifully flavoured. An absolute delight! The sausage, which boasted considerable length and girth, was juicy and delivered just the right amount of heat. The little pot of barbecue pulled pork was generously topped with BBQ pot beans and the combination of textures made this one of my favourite parts of the meal.

I’m ashamed to say that, despite thoroughly enjoying every mouthful, I had to accept defeat rather quickly. Thankfully, the fantastic staff offered to box up what remained so I could enjoy it at home.

I was genuinely sad to be leaving as being quite a distance from where I live, it is not somewhere I can just book whenever the fancy takes me. The people of Horbury are very lucky indeed and I do hope we see another Hickory’s Smokehouse open in Yorkshire in the not-so-distant future.

It really is an all-round brilliant venue boasting a superb ambience, fantastic menus and some of the friendliest staff I have encountered on a review for quite some time.

If Horbury is a little out of your way but you’re keen to sample some of the flavours of Hickory’s Smokehouse, they have a wonderful online shop. We were kindly gifted a set of their signature sauces and rubs so we can attempt to recreate some of their dishes at home. Perfect for BBQ season, their Pitmaster Rub is amazing on steak and chicken and the included Magic Dust is incredible sprinkled over chips.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly dining spot that please the adults as much as the kids, then do consider a visit to Hickory’s Smokehouse Horbury. You won’t be disappointed!

This review was written and published following an invitation to dine at Hickory’s. An invitation does not guarantee coverage on our publication or any other publications owned by Roaring Media Ltd – we only publish reviews following positive experiences, whether we have been invited to dine or made a personal reservation. The brands we work with have no editorial control over our content

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