Everybody loves a good rub, and the guys down at The Bird Barbecue are no different.
The Texas-inspired eatery on Oderburger Strasse shares the same name as its burger-slinging cousin up the road, but patties are the last thing you’ll find here. Sporting a menu espousing the Texan holy trinity (beef brisket, pulled pork and spare ribs, for the non-pious meat eaters out there), The Bird Barbecue is religious about imparting slow-cooked woody flavours into all of its fayre.
Bring your appetite but leave your manners (and vegan friends) at home; once you’re up to your elbows in this meat heap, no knife and fork in the world will help you.
The Bird Barbecue is the result of a failed venture.
What started out as a desire to expand the The Bird brand, experiment with meat-smoking techniques and spread good food to different areas of Berlin came to an end before it had really even taken off.
The Bird Express, an early prototype of The Bird’s expansion that focused more on smoked meats and burgers, enjoyed a mild success before succumbing to complaints from locals who weren’t thrilled about the inordinate amount of smoke that went hand-in-hand with their BBQ meat preparation. Rather than being deterred, however, the guys running The Bird took things to the next level.
Disciple of Texan BBQ pitmasters.
Michael, head chef and all round smoked meat connoisseur, hitched his belt, donned his Stetson and travelled to Texas to learn firsthand the art of meat smoking, where barbecues and rodeos are pretty much the most common pastimes next to riding it bareback and furious rifle polishing at Trump rallies.
There he learned the smoky dark arts essential to creating peerless and authentic barbecue, and shipped those secrets – as well as a giant smoker – back to Berlin. After securing an off-site smoking location to appease the new neighbours, Michael opened up The Bird Barbeqcue, and has been placating German carnivores with authentic American barbecue since.
Roused by the rumours of actual, authentic barbecue, we at Berlin Loves You took it upon ourselves to sample these smoked meats first hand. Having been disappointed by previous attempts at similar barbecue endeavours in Berlin, we were sceptical, to say the least.
Enter the meat orgy.
We expected a menu displaying the usual pulled pork with some or other supposedly American side dish meant to indicate a knowledge of current fashionable food trends – but we were wrong. Over several drinks, some of the many continually rotating craft beers chosen by teammate Donald, we spoke with Michael, who gave us a rundown on how the meat is prepared.
The meat is smoked using only hardwood oak to impart its delightful, authentic flavours. After a thorough rub in their spice blend, everything is smoked for a minimum of 12 hours. This dry-rub approach – as opposed to the addition of sauces once the meat is cooked – ensures that the natural flavour profile is enhanced rather than drowned by the addition of sauces post-cooking, something common in inferior barbecue restaurants. The result of all this meticulous preparation? Some of the most tender and flavoursome meat this side of the Atlantic.
Because of the nature of the meat preparation, there is no set menu, meaning that the dishes change daily, depending on the availability of whatever meat has just come out the smoker.
Based on this open-ended approach, we were treated to a veritable feast of different meats. Yes, it included pulled pork, but rather than being a chunk of pork butt slow-cooked into nothingness, this pig was sweet and tender.
It was served alongside beef brisket, dry-rubbed and smoked for 16 hours, which melted under the weight of a knife; beef ribs which left you sticky and wanting more; a cut of beef belly which oozed with fatty, smoky flavour; and some Texan-style sausage which definitely gave bratwurst a run for its money.
Paired with sides of spicy beans, pineapple salsa, crunchy slaw and a number of chilli sauces that made us sweat more than seeing a BVG controller checking tickets on the S-Bahn, the result was a sticky, delicious skirmish that left everyone satiated and unable to eat dessert (let alone breathe).
In a time when every second person is preaching veganism and eating a slice of bacon earns you a disdainful stare, The Bird Barbecue is a welcome addition to Berlin’s restaurant scene. The location is relaxed, the interior is inviting and the food is decadently good. For the guilty meat-eaters out there, you’ll be happy to know that The Bird also procures its meat from Brandenburg, as well as USDA-certified Angus beef, meaning that every bite comes from a cow that lived a happy life.
So really, unless you’re totally against the idea of American barbecue setting up in Berlin, there’s no reason not to visit.
The Bird Barbecue
Oderberger Str. 61