⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Providing you find the right exit, The Blues Kitchen is a mere 8 minute walk East from Old Street station. As you waft from the stark hustle and bustle of Silicon Roundabout the scenery around you subtly transforms into all things Shoreditch. The buildings enclose as the streets narrow on your way to Curtain Road. You will pass pubs, bars, speakeasies bursting at the seams with after work revellers enjoying their limited freedom.
The Blues Kitchen is unmissable. The large front of this imposing restaurant/bar with its Texas BBQ theme glows with dim exposed filament lightbulbs. Throngs of partygoers bustle outside with the gentle twinkling glow of cigarette lights between puffs of smoke. Make your way inside past the bouncer and your eyes will be transfixed on the imposing square bar, which stands in the centre of the room.
Arriving promptly at 8pm we located the waitress station, a hollowed out petrol pump to the left of the door, to check in for our table. Unfortunately the party before us had not quite left yet, there was paying and table cleaning to do. Unperturbed we propped ourselves up at the bar and instantly ordered some delicious libations to pass the 10 minute wait. 1 pint down we fought our way through the continually expanding after-work crowd back to the waitress station where we were then seated at our booth.
This was where the hard part began, the menus were put down in front of us and decisions started having to be made. Do not go to The Blues Kitchen on a day when you are against decadence. The menu comprises of few options for the “healthy” eater. Comprising of such delectable treats as the 16 hour smoked brisket, gumbo, jambalaya, St Louis pork ribs and, macaroni and cheese, lettuce leaves are few and far between. Having been to The Blues Kitchen before my appetizer was pre-determined due to the undeniable fact that I bloody love wings. The Blues Kitchen hot and spicy buffalo wings are some of the best I have tasted so far. They arrive covered in delicious hot buffalo sauce with a level of spice a little higher than usual, however this does not overpower the flavour. Spice for spice sake can be a mistake, however this complements the wings perfectly. The blue cheese dressing that is served with them is chunky with large rich pieces of blue cheese floating in it providing the perfect accompaniment to the hot wings. These aren’t the biggest wings you will ever eat, however the depth of flavour present makes up for that and then some. My only issue was being slightly stiffed on the blue cheese dressing, only receiving a small pot. Hindsight tells me I should have asked for more.
2 beers down and out came the bottle of red wine. £19 for a very drinkable bottle of Rioja to take us nicely through our main courses. On my first visit I indulged in the 16 hour smoked brisket, and the beautiful flavour and texture still haunts my dreams. However this time the 16 hour smoked burnt ends caught my eye, served with fries and slaw. Covered in lashings of rich stick BBQ sauce the burnt ends came served in a cast iron black bowl propped upon a wooden chopping board. Fries were in shiny metal pot next to it with a dollop of slaw generously heaped on the side. To share in the middle of the table we ordered mac & cheese with extra bacon, because bacon makes everything better.
Fingers sticky from the buffalo wings I picked up my fork and set up my first mouthful of the burnt ends. The sticky BBQ sauce had a depth to it I wasn’t expecting. It was so decadently rich that it clung to my mouth. The satisfying soft brisket texture came through as I broke through the charred outside. The sweetness of the BBQ sauce offset with the smokiness of the burnt ends mingled perfectly. That first bite was satisfying and rich and heavy. Although I was marvelling at the flavour the heaviness took me by surprise. I decided that speed was my friend here and I blocked out the ever more raucous live blues band focusing purely on the job at hand. I finished it all short of licking the bowl and moved onto the fries. A beautifully spiced salt gives them an altogether different yet satisfying taste, salty but intriguing. Not a huge fan of slaw myself I shovelled it in last, the crunch was fresh and it helped lift the clawing burnt ends taste, however it lacked a little. The mac & cheese although what you would expect, a bowl of macaroni and bacon bits covered in cheese was a little disappointing, the taste was forgettable and the bacon was lost.
For dessert our table shared a dish of deep-fried Oreo donuts with salted caramel dip. These were a very strong end to a mostly satisfying meal. The definition of decadence I was only able to have one but that proved plenty.
The Blues Kitchen is a great night out. It is impossible to not get swept up in its carefree southern vibe. The fantastic house band coming on at 10pm turns it into a real party and you can see that many revellers are there just to see them. The food can be a bit hit and miss, but there are some gems to be had on the menu, which are worth getting out to Shoreditch for. The buffalo wings and the brisket are two of these. This review receives 4 stars purely on the strength of the buffalo wings.