Review : The Blues Kitchen, Brixton

[Written for the Brixton Bugle]

I know I won’t be alone in saying that anyone promising to fly in 12-hour smoked brisket and fall-off-the-bone 16 hour beef short rib direct from Texas to my local neighbourhood, is a friend of mine. Well, meet my new buddy The Blues Kitchen.

Owned by The Columbo Group (which also owns new Brixton nightclub Phonox), The Blues Kitchen has delivered an almighty facelift to the old Electric Social premises. The three B’s which sum up this place are clearly stamped on the outside – blues, bourbon and barbecue. And through the large steel-framed doors , the mood is intimate. A floor of rich woods draws you towards cosy, dark leather booth seating. Clearly keen on making this place genuine, the walls are adorned with artwork imported from the Antineau Gallery in New Orleans and reclaimed Tiffany lights salvaged from Pennsylvania and New York. Teamed with the stained glass windows and copper tables, it feels like a cross between a downtown Louisiana hangout and the Queen Vic.

Alongside the restaurant, there’s a beautifully tiled bar which boasts London’s  largest selection of rare and vintage bourbon. There’s a fitting cocktail menu listing the likely suspects of Margarita and Old Fashioned. Of particular mention is the Cali-inspired Fourpure pale ale which acts as a well-needed zingy refresher for what’s about to come.

Margharita

The Blue’s Kitchen has three iterations of their menu – brunch, dinner and appetisers – meaning there’s no bad time to go. But be warned – this place isn’t for the faint-hearted. The portion sizes are gluttonous and it’s just not the place to order the superfood salad.

If, like me, you love ‘big’ food then the dinner menu is one of the most heavenly sides of A4 you’ll see and is bound to cause your eyes to dart back and forth with indecision. We decided to get a couple of appetisers whilst we ummed and ahhed. It’s a bit of a ritual that I always try the buffalo wings in a deep south eatery and here at The Blues Kitchen, they were as good as any others I’ve had. The juicy wings possessed the right level of tingly heat and came with a creamy blue cheese soother. The Cajun blackened shrimp was well seasoned and expertly cooked and came with a Creole mustard sauce which achieved both smoky and sharp. Though the flavour and texture can’t be faulted, we couldn’t help but feel a little stung paying £9.50 for just four prawns – jumbo as they were. We’re still in Brixton.

Chicken wings (2)

Eventually we ordered mains and when they descended, you could barely see the table. The portion sizes here definitely aren’t in question. The largest was a barbecue bonanza of brisket, burnt ends and pulled pork. Each meat was tender in it’s own right and the brisket was lovely and buttery, but the hands-down star of this board were the burnt ends. The much higher fat content meant they was creamy, velvety and collapsed on the tongue. They’re glazed in a wonderfully smoky-sweet beer and hickory barbecue sauce. The fried chicken is needlessly enormous and fed two of us for a second night, and it’s yummy. The juicy chicken sits inside a super crispy and crunchy buttermilk and ‘secret recipe’ seasoned coating, and in a neck of the woods where we aren’t short of good fried chicken, it held its own.

Fried chicken

The burger of the month is cutely named The Big Shorty. It’s got lots of things inside it to make you happy such as brisket, pulled short-rib, slaw and pickled chillies. It’s the size we’ve greedily come to expect in a burger. All the mains came served with staples – generously (in a good way) seasoned fries and slaw.

Burger

But The Blues Kitchen isn’t just about the food. Somewhat smartly, they double up as an evening destination and are very proud of their live music which comes in two shapes and sizes. There’s a small stage on the ground floor restaurant level where blues, swing, gospel and bluegrass musicians will croon carnivorous diners and upstairs, you’ll find Mississippi bluesmen, Louisiana-style brass bands and a ‘tight-knit family of resident musicians and DJs’ playing until 2am every Friday and Saturday. It’s already a bustling night-spot, so as they say in Louisiana why don’t y’all head on down and let the good times roll.

Dinner for two including drinks: £50

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