Lone Star Grill has been on my radar ever since the beginning of Summer when a trusty reader told me about it. Since then I’ve been eagerly tracking their progress on Twitter and Facebook, trying to work out when the doors were opening. Three months later and with no official starting date it seems Lone Star Grill have weaned themselves into business with the hungry folk of Milton Keynes by opening up on the odd day and working their way up to full time serving.
BBQ food has really taken off in Milton Keynes ever since Percy’s took the local’s hearts (and stomachs) with their independent grill. They’ve had the market all to themselves for a good while, so it’ll be interesting to see how the BBQ takeaway scene develops now there’s a new kid on the block.
Okay, so you’ll find Lone Star Grill down in Shenley Church End. Their vision was to have both takeaway as well as a sit-in diner, though you’ll see on walking in the the latter is still very much a work in progress. The owners have stated rather emotionally on their Facebook page that the diner is not as they want it yet, and for now I’d definitely recommend the takeaway option.
The menu is well put together and an obvious amount of effort has gone into creating something authentic. Along with crowd pleasing burgers, ribs and hot dogs there are American favourites like jalapeño cornbread and corn fritters. We ordered up with a very friendly cashier and were told our food would be 25 minutes. She wasn’t lying: in exactly 25 minutes we were heading home with a brown paper bag packed full of BBQ goodies!
First off, Mr Yumdimsum’s order: the LSG burger with American skinny fries.
One deliciously juicy handmade patty cooked with just a hint of pink and simply accompanied by a pickle and Lone Star’s tangy house sauce. The fries were perfectly seasoned with an oh so satisfying crunch.
My order was tactical and I went for pulled pork: I wanted to see how it faired against you-know-who. Lone Star Grill serve their pork in a burger and I added in extra cheese & avocado. I’ve got to say, I absolutely love the soft brioche buns Lone Star use, they are divine! All squishy and comforting with a subtle sweet & sticky glaze on top. They just look, feel and taste fantastic.
As for the pork? It didn’t disappoint. Tender, juicy meat with a wonderful marinaded sweetness. I let out an involuntary “Oh my God” with the first bite. This burger also comes with the house sauce, which compliments the sweet pork perfectly. The only let down for an otherwise perfect burger was the cheese, which I felt needed to be a bit stronger in flavour.
I really wanted to try some of the more authentic stuff on the menu as well, so I got these Hush Puppies: Southern style sweet corn fritters. These were a great side, especially in contrast to that soft little burger; these fritters were crunchy, deep fried perfection without a hint of grease. Great for dipping into BBQ sauce and an interesting alternative to fries.
My second side was the Texas potato salad. My understanding is the main thing that differentiates Texas style from regular potato salad is the addition of mustard. Unfortunately I wasn’t a fan of Lone Star’s version as I found it extremely vinegary. Saying that, Mr Yumdimsum enjoyed it so perhaps its an acquired tasted.
Whilst ultimately I would like to review Lone Star Grill in their own right, I think it’s impossible to not compare against the original bringers of BBQ to the city. Flavour wise, Percy’s offer up deeper, smokier flavours, whilst Lone Star have focused on sweeter and stickier meats. Portions at Lone Star Grill are smaller, but also cheaper. Whilst both fall into a new and somewhat niche market, the menus have enough subtle differences to allow them both room to operate. The owners have obviously put a lot of heart into creating this takeaway and will need to work hard to make the finished product polished enough to compete with the cult following Percy’s has. First impressions have me thinking that they might just pull it off.