I’ve previously mentioned how I have many cures for homesickness scattered around the city. Tucked in at the top of Chamberlayne Road in Kensal Rise, you’ll find another one. Austen’s BBQ makes me feel at home by paying tribute to the stateside cuisine that is as American as it gets. American Barbecue can take many shapes–there’s the greasy spoon, Deep South BBQ, the summertime any-town USA BBQ (complete with American Flags and Bud bottles), the guilty pleasure back-alley Francis Underwood BBQ, and the over-sized mechanical bull-riding Texas BBQ. In America, there’s just a BBQ for everyone. So, it only makes sense why any American can feel back at home at Austen’s.
Austen’s can be found in Kensal Rise, an area that has been up-and-coming for some time now, situated in northwest London, that doesn’t show signs of slowing down. Unique eateries, such as Austen’s, are popping up all over the place. The neighborhood, north of Notting Hill and North Kensington has a condensed high street, a family-friendly vibe, and a wallet-friendly housing market. Outside the main city just enough to be affordable, but still accessible by a main tube line, Kensal Rise is a perfect place for growing families and singles alike.
I usually head to Kensal Rise for a change of scenery, visiting Minkies for a coffee, The Shop for a cocktail, or Jivita Ayurveda for a facial (not all at the same time, don’t worry). On one of these trips I discovered Austen’s BBQ. I went just after they first opened and have revisited enough times to fill up my “Yoda Pig” (the Austen’s twitter loyalty card). The reason I keep returning is not just to get my American fix, but the food is really, really good.
Austen’s uses American smokers to slow-cook brisket and pork all day long. They have perfected the fall-off-the-bone ribs, BBQ sauces (that are named after U.S. states!), and comfort sides like macaroni & cheese and (OMG!) the cornbread muffin. Austen’s really is as authentic as it gets here in London. In the states, every single sports bar you visit would have Buffalo Wings on the menu, so to see them here (instead of fish and chips) was just oh so refreshing, yet familiar. Sure, they could stand to be crispier if they were trying for a true U.S. reproduction, but the taste is 100% on point. Their only item that confuses me is the American Cookie for dessert. Can someone please tell me what an American Cookie is? I didn’t know we had our own cookies, but maybe there is an American stereotype I have yet to learn? Their use of the term “American Cookie” will probably lead a poor English chap to ask for the item the next time he visits the U.S. where he will be looked at like he has 20 heads. I hate when stereotypes are on menus. Especially ones that don’t make sense.
But, I digress. Austen’s is amazing, and a great place to go for a chill night with friends, a weeknight you don’t feel like cooking, or if you’re looking for an excuse to wear your American flannels that you don’t get to break out enough in posh Notting Hill. And it is the most perfect place to be transported back to the sights and smells of your favorite BBQ joint in America. If you’re missing the home you hail from, you can definitely find a piece of it at Austen’s BBQ in Kensal Rise.
109 Chamberlayne Road
London NW10 3NS