Ditch the smartphone and Facebook living your mad life for one second, and there’s enough 1920s speakeasy-style spots in London to make you feel a little era-confused. Blues Kitchen Camden was one of the first to bring us Prohibition-themed cool, becoming so popular that the owners, Colombo Group, opened two more outlets of the brand. I headed north to see the spot where it all kicked off.
Venue & Atmosphere
Blues Kitchen models itself on the Wild West and Deep American South, bringing bourbon and big plates to Camden. The decor has a sense of polished shabbiness, lights sprout from the end of brass trombone chandeliers, tatty pictures of Southern style gentlemen hang on artfully unpainted walls and a faded mirror reflects from the back of a whisky-bottle lined bar. Mahogany leather booths and long wooden tables fill the entire venue giving no clear break between the restaurant and bar. This may not be a place for a cosy-up and cuddle dinner, but it does promise a rollicking good time.
Arriving before 8pm on a Saturday night and the venue was already swinging, groups of 30-somethings crowded round the bar and towards the stage at the back of the venue swaying with their cocktails. As the night wore on, students and 20-somethings replaced the older crowd, from the dressed-up through to the low-key, people jostled and crammed for a table to chat or cast an eye out to the rest of the restaurant.
Food & Drink
Blues Kitchen Camden have a one track mind when it comes to food; it’s all about the Texan BBQ. Dishes are defiantly meaty, slow-cooked and dripping in sauce. Goat tacos (£7.50) come as two bite-sized, soft tortilla parcels filled with juicy goat meat. The main menu is split with meat plates from the BBQ, burgers and dishes such as catfish and prawn jambalaya (£13.90) and New Orleans Gumbo (£13.90). In true Cajun style, we went big and we went BBQ, choosing the three meat option (£17.50). Burnt Ends was a meat pile of 18-hour cooked beef brisket that was smothered in a beer and hickory sauce while the pulled pork had a sweet tang from its juicy marinade.
True to its American roots, Blues Kitchen Camden has a whopping selection of bourbon and whiskeys. The cocktail list is a whiskey-heavy selection of concoctions along with a few new takes on classics. Mezcal Margarita (£9.50) was a smokey muddle, mixed without triple sec to lose some of the citrus sweetness of the classic, making it all the more drinkable. The Lychee Martini (£9.50) was a sugary and refreshing blend of gin, lychee liqueur and lime while Zombie (£9.50) came in a great tank of a glass filled with ice, rum, grapefruit and a hint of absinthe.
Our fling with America’s Deep South shows no signs of slowing down and Blues Kitchen Camden is still one of the best spots in London to get a fill of Americana. From the low-lit, hot and heavy mix of blues music, through to the sauce slathered tender meat, a night in Blues Kitchen is more than a cheap knock-off of the wild west, it's wicked, tonnes of fun and utterly delicious.