What better way to launch the blog than attending the opening night of Grillstock’s new Smokehouse?
Venturing down to get our own portion of the Meat, Music and Mayhem, we ordered, and very quickly devoured, our plate of pulled pork, fries and hot link sausage. And all I can say is MMMMMM! The dish was amazing. The pork was drizzled with their signature Grillstock BBQ Sauce, which is also available in bottles to purchase. We indulged in a cider, in true Bristolian style, and their delightfully charismatic chef Scott added to our plate burnt ends and chilli (sides or known as Fixin’s on their menu). The meat was so tasty my sister, a veggie for the last 2 years, gasped “I cannot stop eating!” and continued to devour the meat feast, barely coming up for air.
The deep south decor and festival inspired music go well with the communal table centered in the middle of the room and adds to the Grillstock charm.
We thoroughly enjoyed our first time to Grillstock’s new restaurant and will definitely be back again! Now here’s our signature behind the scenes interview with the Grillstock masterminds Ben and Jon. Enjoy!
Erin: The new restaurant looks amazing. How are you feeling on opening night?
Ben: Super excited! I have a big grin. It’s been about 6 months of work and great fun along the way. To have the opportunity to turn what we have created as part of the festival into a restaurant experience is amazing and a great opportunity for the whole team.
Erin: It’s a brilliant space and location! Any specific reason for locating the restaurant on the triangle?
Ben: A central location was key to us, and it was also important to make this happen in Bristol. Our home town, and original location for the festival. The size of the space is a challenge but we wanted to kick off somewhere that has a great feel, and agreed it was the right move.
Erin: What can first time customers expect when they walk through the door?
Ben: Meat.Music.Mayhem. As I mentioned, we wanted to condense the festival experience into our restaurants, with the music, food and vibe all similar. The walls are decked with festival memorabilia from the past four years which I think really makes us different. We live and breathe this stuff and I hope that really comes across in the smokehouse.
Erin: The menu looks delicious. What would be your recommendation?
Ben: I recommend the Smokehouse Special, because you get to try 3 out of our 4 main BBQ meats plus all the trimmings, such as hot link sausage, corn bread and our seasoned fries.
Erin: The ‘Grand Champion’ challenge sounds interesting, has anyone attempted it yet?
Ben: Loads! And about 2 or 3 have done it…Do you want to try ?
Erin: I would love to try it! Essentially you were inspired by your travels to the States. What were the key inspirations that started the Grillstock phenomenon?
Ben: We visited some of the large BBQ competitions in the States, where hundreds of teams compete for big prize money. As well as having a passion for the food, we realised that nothing existed like it in the UK and decided it would be great fun to put on a festival, with the BBQ competition at the heart of it all. It’s the combination of our competition, the way we do it differently from the states and the music that makes us unique!
Erin: How do feel about the fact that over 10,000 people attend your festival every year?
Ben: Absolutely chuffed! Our team works really hard year round to put on the best festival we can. We’re really excited by the growth of the festival and are learning to tweak things as we go, to find the perfect balance between music and food.
Erin: What would be your greatest accomplishment so far on this journey?
Ben: One of the highlights has been taking the festival to Manchester. After 4 years in Bristol, we decided to take Grillstock to Manchester just 1 month after the Bristol festival. It was a great success, and everyone took to it like it had been there for years. The fact that it sold out makes us all very proud.
Erin: You have a restaurant, a festival and your own products, what can we expect from Grillstock next?
Ben: More of it all! We plan to create more festivals where we can, and want to change things up each year. The restaurants are going to grow so look out for one in your city soon! We’re also developing our own range of sauces and there’s some Grillstock Biltong coming soon!
Erin: Any at home BBQ tips for the summer?
Ben: Patience. Learn the art of in-direct cooking, which is where you have all the coals on one side of the BBQ and the meat on the other. Once you add the lid to the BBQ you begin to start smoking properly. Look it up, it will transform your BBQ skills instantly! Oh, and buy a chimney starter and thermapen.
Get down to Grillstock’s Smokehouse for your BBQ fix. It’s not just for summer, but all year round! You will love it!
Written by: Erin Edwards
Photographs by: Jade Edwards