THE CITY // CUE Barbecue

Cue Barbecue Angus and Oink Aberdeen

I don't know about anyone else, but I love a good barbecue. For me, they're the Christmas dinners of the summertime, representing family and togetherness as we meet over mini mountains of shared food.

It's precisely that ideology which CUE Barbecue have set out to capture and transform into a restaurant experience, bringing a new concept to Aberdeen's foodie scene.

Taking inspiration from South and Latin American cuisine, it was actually a road-trip just south of our own border that first got the barbecue juices flowing. While tucking into their own wood-smoked feast, Beetroot Restaurants' Chris Tonner and Scott Fraser of Angus and Oink began to dream of bringing both the culture and flavour of a deep South barbecue to Aberdeen.

Barbeque Shack - Cue Barbeque Aberdeen

It wasn't long before renovations were under-way at The Courtyard's old site, transforming the venue into a casual wood-shack diner where everyone can gather and relax. What they've produced is a welcoming space where creativity flows, with attention paid to every detail. Long banquet tables, log-pile walls, brilliant red stools, metal signage and a huge animal skull all add to the rustic American feel, but it's the artwork in the hallway that really steals the show. Painted by the Real Nice Collective's Katie Guthrie, the huge mural features meat cleavers, a rack of ribs shaped like a map of the USA, and the uni-hog - Cue's own unique breed of beer-chugging pig!

Katie Guthrie art work - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen

Work is still in progress upstairs in what should be an even more chilled space, promising a food-truck theme with a serving hatch straight out of the kitchen. They hope eventually to build up a "bourbon bar" and to play host to live bands, and I can certainly see myself there, soaking up the music over a cocktail or two.

Drinks are taken seriously at Cue and they've made an extra effort to pull together a selection of beers, gin, rum, tequila and whiskey that compliment both the theme and the food, as well as a bold cocktail list featuring drinks such as the ingeniously named 'Watch Me Whip, Watch Me Chardonnay-nay!' They've even invested in the machinery to mix up slushy margaritas and are continually experimenting with flavours, adding a hint of spice from Angus and Oink's range of sauces or crafting their own additions such as a strawberry and black pepper syrup.

Beer bottles and cans - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen
Cocktails - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen

Of course, all of that pales into insignificance when compared with the food. Boy, Cue are serious about their food!

The secret weapon at the heart of their menu is an Ole Hickory pit smoker, straight out of the States via the Atlantic ocean and crane-lifted in through a first floor window - too huge to fit through the door. One of only two of its kind in Scotland, the smoker allows for a "low and slow" style of cooking that lets Cue's "rub me, smoke me, sauce me, eat me" mantra come to the fore.

Rub Smoke Sauce Eat Me - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen

As you'd probably expect of a barbecue, there is a heavy emphasis here on meat. Working closely with butcher John Davidsons, 14 hour smoked beef brisket, pulled pork and racks of ribs are all locally sourced and sold in "meat market" style, ordered by weight for a real bit-of-everything barbecue experience. The same goes for the sausages, available in three varieties unique to Cue, dreamt up in collaboration with the butcher. They've even gone so far as to create their own spicy black pudding, with rice as an alternative binding and chorizo and fennel for flavour.

All of their meats are rubbed with their own seasoning combinations; smoked slowly in the pit; and served up to tables ready-stocked with bottles of Angus and Oink's sauces to add your own level of taste and heat. The Red Dawg Apache was my personal favourite, though the fiery Voodoo Mango seemed to go down a treat with the spice fiends!

Meat Market - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen
Angus and Oink sauces - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen

I must admit to having a bit of a giggle when Julia's invitation to Sunday's bloggers' event popped into my inbox. Otherwise known as "The Ultimate Meat-Off," it seemed a somewhat unlikely addition to my calendar but, having followed Cue's progress online prior to their opening on February 2nd, I was keen to go along and check it out.

As it was, they very generously promised to cater for us vegetarians too and, my word, they didn't disappoint!

Scott Fraser - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen
Fried Chicken - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen
Rollin Rolls - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen

On arrival at the restaurant, we were treated to a Pimm's-based cocktail while we listened to Scott talk us through the menu, ethos and story of Cue. Before long, food began arriving at our tables ..and once it started, it never seemed to cease!

While the omnivores tucked into buckets of fried chicken, meat platters, sliders and bowls of steaming gumbo, we herbivores shared in the rainbow of side dishes and got stuck into a tray of treats of our own. With sides ranging from house seasoned fries, to tasty red or green 'slaw; "rainbow unicorn" pickles to crispy battered onion rings; delicious BBQ beans to perfect, sweet cornbread muffins, I'd happily of munched my way through them without any need for a main course.

Gumbo and sides  - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen

But then they arrived at the table and there was no way I could resist!

First up, there was "Big Mamma's Mac N Cheese" - a delicious combination of three types of cheese, flavoured with pumpkin and thyme and topped with crispy onions - so good that my avoidance of too much gluten made me suddenly very sad. Then there was a bowlful of tex-mex style "Rootin' Tootin' Vegetable Chilli" - tasty, slow-cooked veggies, beans and tomato served with "dirty" vegetable rice; followed by some "Roots Manouvre"  tacos with their soft, griddled tortillas stuffed full of roasted vegetables, chargrilled vegetable salsa and smoky sour cream. Available in pork and seafood varieties too, these were tacos done gooood! Last but not least came a monster of a mushroom and vegetable burger (perhaps the biggest patty I've ever seen) - tasty on its own, but the ideal base for a sampling of every sauce.

Vegetarian dishes  - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen
Tacos and vegetarian - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen

Flavoursome, filling and a complete change from the vegetarian norm, these dishes would stand their ground in any context, but are perhaps all the more impressive in a setting that prides itself on its meat.

What was billed as a "taster" session turned into something of a feast and we were already fit to burst by the time dessert was mentioned. Of course, there's always a bit of tummy reserved especially for pudding and so we managed to squeeze in a second cocktail and a taste of their sweet treats. The key lime cheesecake got a good thumbs up and the banoffee pie seemed most popular with the majority, but it was the sticky pecan pie that won it for me.

Dessert - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen
Ole Hickory smoker  - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen

I was glad of the mid-dessert interlude when Scott came to give us a restaurant tour, entertaining us with meat cleavers (eek!) and proudly showing off the Ole Hickory smoker in the kitchen. It was fascinating to see behind the scenes of a venue like this and a delight to listen to someone speak with so much passion and enthusiasm for both their business and their food. They have a real vision for the future of the restaurant and I'm really keen to see how it further develops.

Skull - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen
 - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen
Aberdeen Bloggers Abzchat - Cue Barbecue Aberdeen
The blogger massive. I've tried to update my 'Directory' page to include links to everyone's blogs.

What they've created so far is an exciting addition to Aberdeen's foodie scene that truly offers something for everyone. Omnivore or herbivore, the food here is not to be missed. And with a separate menu for the kids and an under-5s-eat-free policy, it's a relaxed restaurant with a real family feel, perfect for replicating that summer barbecue experience, come rain or shine!

My mouth is watering just thinking about these dishes and I've already booked in for a return visit. I can't recommend them highly enough! Check them out at:

1 Alford Lane, Aberdeen
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* CUE generously gifted us everything sampled as part of our bloggers' experience, but all opinions are strictly my own -- food this good speaks for itself! A special thanks to the whole CUE team for having us and to Julia for her top organisational skills.

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