The art of the Q  – Bab Haus, Bedwas, South Wales

I have been a big fan of Leyli Homayoonfar’s cooking for many years now.

I first encountered her food at a friend’s party (many, many, pre – covid, moons ago) where she was doing the catering. I then attended a number of her pop ups (prior to the plague hitting) and availed myself of her (h)eat at home offerings (the Persian one being my fav) when we were wielded (metaphorically) into our homes.

I had, prior to this post, yet to sample the seeming delights (with reviews raving, in a good way) of her Bab Haus operations in Barry (Mexican) and Bedwas (Texas BBQ)

I have always regarded Leyli Homayoonfar as a bit of an artist in the kitchen, hence the blog title reference to the art of the Q (with the Bauhaus connection or in this case the Bab Haus and I was also quite partial to Bauhaus, the recording artists, in my youth – with Bela Lugoi’s Dead an iconic tune in my teens, athough I always thought Stigmata Martyr was the better song – both have cracking intros).

The long Easter weekend presented the perfect opportunity to break my Bab Haus duck.

An order was duly put in online and pick up confirmed for 17.00 – 17.10 (very precise and I absolutely hate being late for anything) from their Bedwas base.

One of the delights of the menu is not only having your standard stuff like baby back ribs but also things that are a little more rarer beasts in the UK (outside of specialist BBQ places) such a burnt ends (here made using pork belly, rather than the more traditional brisket, which a purest could argue are not burn ends at all, – but if they taste good..). I resisted the allure, just, of ex diary beef ribs on the menu (next time defo).

After much humming and harring, I decided on an order of :

  • Full rack of spare (rather than baby back) ribs (£22);
  • Burn ends (pork belly – £14)
  • Mac and cheese (£6); and
  • Corn ribs (£7).

Pick up is from their industrial unit in Bedwas, with the rather unassuming exterior hidding a Willy Wonka- eque BBQ factory interior.

Jar upon jar of pickles

adorn the walls,

with the further allure of various sauces on sale.

The goodies are all packed up nicely in a robust cardboard (pizza style) box, which made transportation back to base very easy.

The smell is my car on the journey back was intoxicating (could bottle that and sell it as Bab Haus No. 5) and what a box of delights it was when first opened up in the house.

The ribs were behemoths, being full on Flintstone – esque in stature,

with a lovely bark and a deep smoke ring

Less than half of the rack

The spicing was absolutely bob on and the meat beautifully tender. It didn’t fall off the bone, but rather came away with a little tease. How is should be in my opinion.

These fed two of us for two gut busting meals, so would easily be enough for four

Burnt end (due to an oven malfunction at the Bab Haus) required (on Leyli’s instruction) 40 mins in the oven (at 150°c) and came out rather lovely, I thought,

with soft buttery fat and full on flavoured meat. My kind of food these burnt ends, with the rich cap of fat really ramping up the flavour.

Lovely, not overpowering smokey flavour, that allowed the spicing and innate porkiness of the belly cubes to still shine through.

The accompanying pickles

and sauces were top notch.

Lovely spicing and a good hit of acidity to all of these. Great for dipping both the ribs and the burnt ends in.

Very generous when you consider these are all in in the price of the meats.

On the sides I was slightly worried that the corn ribs would not benefit from the drive home and a necesssary short reheat rather than the eat straight away option.

The heat was actually retained very well and my fears did not materialise. All that was required was a very quick blast in the oven to melt the cheese. Very moreish these, with a good hit of cheese and chilli.

The star of the side show, however, was a belting mac and cheese. Worth the drive to Bedwas alone for this.

Gloriously cheeesy, but not cloyingly so, with a nice bite of heat and acidity coming from the judicious use of mustard and chunky elbow macaroni cooked on point.

Just perfect with the burnt ends and pickles

It terms of drinks pairings, I had on the first night a rather fine Languedoc syrah.

With the spicing here what I didn’t want was anything with too robust tannins and this worked very well, I thought, with the ribs.

A Pastore sour (bought from the Bottle Shop in Pontcanna) also worked rather well.

Very easy drinking, lowish (for a sour) alcohol, number this. Bursting with refreshing fruitiness and a nice touch of tartness, this was just fab as against the fatty richness of the burnt ends.

I also reckon an oloroso, like this beauty from Bodegas Urium,

would work an absolute treat with this kind of food. Would be a great foil for the spices here.

The verdict

Leyli has once again nailed it with top notch Q that is well worth the short (30 mins) hop from my gaff to Bedwas.

Everything was spiced beautifully, with the smoke very much there but in a way that complemented rather than fought against the spice and flavour of the meat.

Generally I am not a huge fan of takeaways and I only really bought into them (and even then under duress) during our incarceration back in 20/21. If I am honest I don’t have much desire to go back to them post lockdown (a few exceptions granted) as I just prefer cooking myself at home or letting someone else do the cook for me in a restaurant

This stuff from the Bab Haus is, however, very much a takeaway that I can seriously buy into. The ingredients are top quality (with beef, for example, from Meat Matters) and this place puts the tin hat on the underlying quality base ingredients with expert spicing and expert application of smoke. The end product is outstanding.

Would I go back? Absolutely – Q of the highest order on display here, with the results true works of culinary art.

I am already eyeing up are order for the next long bank holiday (cheers Brenda).

I must also get to their Goodsheds Barry site sooner rather than later.

The details

Address: Unit 12, Greenway Workshops, Bedwas Industrial Estate, CF83 8HW.

Website: https://www.babhausmex.co.uk/

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