I’m not entirely sure where my love of barbecue stems from. Probably C-Stu introducing me to the magical Manwhich at Holy Smoke many years ago when we were young university students.
Since then I’ve been fortunate to sample some pretty sweet barbecue in Arizona and Austin – but not yet the meccas of the deep south say. Though Calgary, since Holy Smoke came on the scene, has really upped its barbecue game.
One of those ups is Hayden Block Smoke & Whiskey. Situated very conveniently in Kensington in the old Yardhouse location – Hayden Block has homey, communal seating, a wicked whiskey collection and smells of the sainted perfume of smoked meat.
On this visit I was joined by the Chadmont’s and we decided to dine family style. Hayden Block makes this really simple, selling a variety of meats by the half or full pound, accompanied by a healthy list of sides.
If you’re a loner, or don’t like to share, they have a pretty sweet sandwich selection too. But first, as always, lets start with the cocktails.
Christian went for some good ol’ Maker’s Mark (neat). Fanny went with the Ancho Chili Margarita (Hornitos Reposada Tequila, Ancho Reyes, lime, lime leaf bitters, simple syrup and chili pepper salt). I had a sip, and holy tequila batman – the heat of the chili at the end is a nice touch.
I went with the Blackberry Port (LBV Port, blackberries, lemon, mint, meringue, balsamic reduction, simple syrup). This was a sweet, warm, dark drink that conjurs up images of nights cuddled by the fire. The balsamic was very present but in a non-offensive way – and as always, the mint really freshened it up – but overall, it was a tidge sweet for my liking.
For our dining pleasure we had a half pound of the brisket, smoked wings, bacon wrapped corn on the cob, green beans and corn bread.
Fun fact: Hayden Block serves slices of white bread, for FREE
The brisket was creamy tender, smoked just right and had an oh so tasy bit of fat. Hayden Block offers up three accompanying barbecue sauces, house, espresso and a spicy vinegar. My winners were definitely the tang of the vinegar and the depth of the espresso.
The wings had a nice amount of smoke and paired really well with the ranch, which I’m guessing was homemade. And the beans had a little tang and were paired with dirkies (which is what I call fried onions, an homage to my American aunt).
The winners for me, other than the brisket, were the bacon wrapped corn – which had carmelized just so but maintained the crunch – DAMN! And the cornbread. I rarely meet cornbread I don’t want to make babies with, but when you pair it with Hayden Block’s honey butter – DAMNx87!