Column: Watch as Derbyshire food bloggers Meats and Cheats visit Buddy’s Smokehouse in Matlock

Leala with the pork tray

It’s a romance over ribs, it’s a pulled pork passion and Meats & Cheats, it’s a brand built on brisket!

Now we all know the Americans have got traditional BBQ in their back pocket but where do you go for some of these truly authentic flavors in mild-mannered Derbyshire? Matlock…of course!

‘Buddy’s Smokehouse and Bar-BQ Joint’ is located on Dale Road in Matlock and is the brainchild of Michael Thompson and Head Pitmaster Luke Rhodes.

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A passion for authentic southern states BBQ is the driving force behind the brand and the wonderful aromas that waft out of the restaurant upon arrival.

Luke is no slouch when it comes to his culinary expertise as he was a finalist in ‘MasterChef: The Professionals’ and has worked for some top Michelin star restaurants. There’s no question that he has gained a lot of skills from the world of fine dining but his true love for food rests in the juicy culture of BBQ. Taking his eye for detail and his drive for perfection, Luke has transformed his skill set into his real passion.

As a restaurant, Buddy’s is a love letter to BBQ shacks across the USA. Exposed wood roughly presented metal fixtures, neon lights, and amusing posters and artwork.

The staff were extremely friendly and accommodating, not something exclusively done for us food writers, all the other diners were having chats with staff and the chefs were going directly to the tables to ensure that a great experience was being had by all.

Mick with the pit tray

Pitmaster Luke insisted that we start with a tray of sides, handpicked by the man himself, so we kicked things off with his Signature Fried Chicken, which was tender and had some serious crunch on the coating.

Moving on was the XXXL Chicken Wings in a hot buffalo sauce and these bad boys were big on size and HUGE on flavour. Next came the Mac ‘N’ Cheese with jalapeño and pit-smoked bacon and this might be the CREAMIEST mac ‘n’ cheese we’ve ever had.

Finally, we were able to experience the ‘DFJ’ – a deep-fried jacket potato, topped with ranch, chives, bacon, and jalapeños.

This was a game-changer as neither of us care for jacket potatoes. The outside of the jacket was crunchy and almost Cajun, whereas the potato inside was super fluffy and delicate, working brilliantly alongside the toppings.

Close up of the pit tray

Leala then went for the ‘Pork ‘N’ Slaw’ tray, featuring 14hr, hickory smoked pork shoulder with signature ‘mop sauce’, crunchy smoked crackling and a wonderful ‘Granny Smith Apple

Slaw’ which offered a charming freshness to compliment the saltiness of the meat.

Mick chose the ‘Pitmaster’s Tray’, featuring a full array of the meats on the menu. Sweet Kansas City pulled pork, 1/2 a rack of sticky St Louis ribs, smoked cheese bratwurst, moist and tender smoked turkey, MORE XXXL chicken wings, ENORMOUS and smoky burnt ends and the absolute star of the show was the Texas-style brisket , which was the size of a full steak and was thick, tender, juicy and packed with authentic flavour!

Both epic trays came with rosemary salt fries and a traditional cheddar and jalapeño cornbread which was not necessary but extremely welcome, nonetheless.

Pitmaster pit tray

Hard work and passion are admirable but great BBQ food is timeless and with their strong work ethic, value for money and authenticity…Matlock is now a barbecue town, owned by Buddy’s Smokehouse!

deep fried jacket potato
Pork pit tray, pitmaster pit tray and selection of sides
Leala inside Buddy’s
Deep fried jacket potato, chicken wings, mac and cheese and fried chicken

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