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Knutsford Guardian feature

Barbara Jordan

2 Mar 2023

A NEW smokehouse restaurant has opened bringing American style BBQ to Knutsford.

The Smokehouse & Cellar has welcomed its first customers into the Royal George Building on Regent Street this week after a major refurbishment. The family business used to have a successful Smokehouse & Cellar restaurant in Manchester until the pandemic, when trading became difficult.

The company is owned by Sarah Johnson and run by her partner John Rennie and his brother Steven.

Painstaking preparation lies behind creating the unique flavours of barbecued meats, cooked low and slow over oak, apple, hickory and cherry woods to reach their smokiness potential.

John, 51, said: “We feel we’ve got a great product. There is a lot of process and timing involved in this.

It is low and slow it takes 14 to 16 hours over a smoker at 80-90 degrees to cook a cut of brisket. Ribs take around eight hours."

“When it’s gone, it’s gone, we can’t cook anything quickly if we run out.” It will take a month, he says, to work out which dishes prove most popular so chefs can meet the demand.

Award-winning pitmaster Jason Latham is the executive pitmaster and designs and supplies all the in house rubs and sauces to their exacting requirements. “He designs rubs for us,” said John. “Some have 18 different ingredients. Jason travels all over the UK judging and competing. He’s just been over in America and came 11th out of 500 in a brisket competition. He did really well.”

All the fresh produce comes from local suppliers, including Bidlea Dairy and W Mandeville Craft Bakers, of Holmes Chapel.“Everything is locally sourced, we try and keep money in the area,” said John. “Everything is butchered on site. We can control the cut. We leave the fat on the pork to render down.”

A pitmaster platter gives diners a taste of everything.

Half a honey glazed chicken on the bone, half a rack of ribs, pulled pork, pulled brisket, corn on the cob, homemade slaw, fries and Texas toast soaked in garlic on the grill make up this giant signature dish.

The menu has a wide selection of meals.

“We cover every appetite,” said John. “We don’t just have barbecued and smoked meat. We offer tuna steak, fajitas, hanging skewers, burgers and a warm salad it's great multi generation food. Simple burgers are available for grand kids.”

The restaurant has created 20 jobs. “We have employed everyone locally so they don’t have to spend half their wages getting back and from work,” said John.

It is not just the food that is different, a unique beer is alsop served. “We import Staropramen unpasteurised beer from Prague,” said John. “It’s still quite novel here. We have two copper tanks inside that hold 880 pints and two tanks outside that we can bring into service when we’re busy. With unpasteurised beer, you have to pour it away if it is not used after two weeks. It is high risk but the pay of is worth it. The flavour is a lot different, very clean.

It is brewed, shipped and then piped straight into the tanks.”

Breakfasts will be launched in the coming weeks, offering American tater tots and pancakes as well as traditional English, eggs Benedict and avocado on toast. Takeaway coffees will also be available.

John moved to the area six years ago. “We love the area,” said John. “Knutsford has a great atmosphere. People are coming out a couple of nights a week. I feel that the town is ready for something new. We serve good wholesome flavours that people like. I’m really excited.”

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