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Mendlesham's Smokehouse Barbecue hosts successful Texas Night at Suffolk Barns

An authentic Texas-style rib night was enjoyed at a Mendlesham eatery - which has found a way to attract crowds in lockdown.

Smokehouse Barbecue, which is based in Suffolk Barns off Norwich Road, held its second themed night on Saturday (August 1) where customers drove-in to collect their food.

Denise and Adrian Nuttall appropriately held their first drive-in event on July 4, US Independence Day, and described the venture as a labour of love.

Jeremy Eason (nearest table) with his family from Texas, and Sue Moore (furthest) with hers from WarwickshirePicture by Josh Nuttall
Jeremy Eason (nearest table) with his family from Texas, and Sue Moore (furthest) with hers from WarwickshirePicture by Josh Nuttall

Adrian said: “It was a great experience and an honour to be cooking with top Texas Pitmasters which meant getting up at 1am to hone my skills.

“I fell in love with the flavours of Texas BBQ and have been cooking on wood for more than 15 years - often staying up all night to manage the fire!”

The scale of the project has seen the Nuttalls equip Suffolk Barns, which used to be Chilli Farm, install a ‘Texas sized’ charcoal and wood smoker which allows them to serve up to 100 racks of babyback ribs in one night. The ribs are smoked for more than five hours over smouldering chunks of apple wood. Denise said the craft has been perfected from multiple trips to Texas for research.

She continued: “We opened a BBQ on the farm when we moved here in 2006, but Suffolk wasn’t ready for Texas style barbecue then. But now it is!”

The project has already attracted local attention, but for this second rib night, customers were coming in from Warwickshire and even Texas itself.

Smokehouse Barbecue is also staffed by Denise and Adrian’s daughter Hollie, who runs the grill with her partner Adam. Hollie’s brother Josh helps with social media and front of house.

Hollie said: “We have a whole range of burgers on the menu to compliment the smoked meats - often with them in the same bun. However, I am vegetarian so I made sure there are vegetarian and vegan options on the menu too.”

Adam added: “We have made it as simple (and as safe) as possible for people that don’t want to come inside to pay. They can simply pull up to a parking space and give us a call, then we will run their pre-ordered meal out to them. We even have contactless card payments available for drive-in.”