THE BLUES KITCHEN, CAMDEN
When you think about it, Camden is probably the closest thing we have to the deep south of America; steeped in history; ridiculously talented musicians; quirky dressers; and borderline illegal club nights. Therefore I can think of no better place to have an old fashioned American bar-cum-restaurant-cum-live music venue. I’ve heard nothing but good things about The Blues Kitchen from friends with a fondness for guitar solos, so I decided to take a trip to Camden to find out if they do The Kitchen just as well as they do The Blues.
I arrive after a 5 minute walk down the high street, actually I am fibbing slightly, as I actually walked past the place twice as I was expecting something a bit grander on the outside than a stale looking pub. However, once through the doors, the place is buzzing with life- and we are showed to our booth by a friendly, casually dressed waitress.
The restaurant area is separated slightly to the bar and hangout area, so although the venue was fairly busy, you can have an intimate dinner while still soaking up the atmosphere. Once seated, I find our table still has some food remnants on it and had to wait about 5 minutes before a waitress was available- not ideal having a half eaten chicken bone staring at you while trying to conversate with a guest. That aside, I took a look at the drinks menu and although I was expecting a good range of bourbons being an American themed bar, I was still positively blown away by the range. Of course other drinks are available but I would definitely recommend trying a few whiskies for that authentic experience.
With appetite whetted by thoughts of small batch bourbon, it is time to order food. I say this with my hand on my heart- I have never seen a menu where I literally want to try everything on it! This urge was made all the more desirable when we were informed that all the barbeque items are smoked in-house (Cue Homer Simpson drooling). For starters, we go for the Sharing Platter which has a bit of everything from ribs to chilli to nachos. Oh it delivered beyond expectations and more, with the pulled pork and homemade chilli being a personal favourite. Be warned that the platter comes in American sized portions, so make sure you leave enough room for mains.
It goes without saying we were geared up for the next course, and I went for the humungous beef ribs, which is slow smoked for 8 hours. I felt like I was in The Flintstones while tackling the beef, as it was nearly as large as my head and weighed just as much. As you can imagine, as it is smoked for so long, the meat was full of flavour, but the only criticism is that it was slightly greasy. My dining partner had the good old Southern Fried Chicken, a staple of the deep south diet, which was crisp and made to a recipe that even the colonel would be jealous of. I would recommend the sweet potato fries to accompany.
By this point, we were so stuffed that we could not fathom a third course and it’s no surprise that there are only 3 desserts available. However, if you do have some space, try one of the milkshakes made with fresh cream- thick & creamy, leaving a smile on my companion’s satisfied face.
London has seen an explosion of great barbeque restaurants recently, but very few do it as well or as reasonably priced as The Blues Kitchen. The venue typifies Camden, so don’t expect silver service but judging by my experience, it’s no surprise that it is frequented by everyone from celebs, business people, and students alike.
The Blues Kitchen, 111-113 Camden High St, NW1 7JN. For event guides, restaurant bookings and more: www.theblueskitchen.com