Champagne, cocktails and those famed oh-so crafty meat cuts? This means one thing only - HotBox opened its doors, kicked off the 'Cue and stoked those burning stoves ready for a some smokin' meats to be served. It goes without saying: where there's meat, I will be. And so it begins with the launch of HotBox.
Think black. An all black exterior and just one glowing red, neon sign; HotBox it is. The darkness extends to the first floor main eatery where a space of urban cool light fittings, exposed bricks and dark washed woods unfolds. The seating complex is a communal set-up (in true BBQ style) with benches serving long tables. Food envy is inevitable in such close quarters, but we all know staring is caring.
The story doesn't end there, meander downstairs and discover the basement bar 46 & Mercy where experimental cocktails reign supreme and lounging leather furnishings herald your food coma stint. Paralleling the dark den upstairs, this bar area sees white walls accented by Warhol-esque artwork and flashes of red. Everything is stylish, sleek and modern down here.
The Food & Drink
Game on. First was an orange coloured concoction called Statler & Waldorf. Heavy on the tang but as a sucker for a sour tasting tipple, the mix of walnut bitters, lime, apple and beetroot shrub and Tequila just hit the spot. Beckoning for round 2, we were made a refined little number called Upstairs, Downstairs. A bit shy on the taste in the aftermath of the first cocktail but the blend of Calvados, mulled pear cordial and Sweet Vermouth still went down swimmingly. But, it has to be said the best was definitely saved 'til last. Frankie Says Relax - Aylesbury Duck Vodka, grapefruit and bergamot sherbet, lime, Kamm & Sons - a lip smacking treat with a sweet little kick. Evidently, the mixologists behind the HotBox bar know how to knock up some crackin' signature spirit combos.
Now, onto what we're here for - the meat. Established in the BBQ industry as champions of the 'Cue and masters of the Pit, the HotBox kitchen is where all mighty meaty dreams come true. We gnashed our chops around some pork belly cuts to start with, and swiftly came to coining the unknown side sauce, very befittingly, as 'sassy mayo'. Then came a taster-type tray of meaty madness: pulled pork, prime beef short ribs and some chorizo infused sausage all sprinkled with chili on top. Finally, if you've never tried some baked and breaded macaroni cheese balls then you're in for one melty, heart-stopping awakening. Hot, cheesy and delicious; macaroni cheese should forever be served this way. Oh and it's worth mentioning the donuts. Yes, there was pudding and yes HotBox does dessert well. A chocolate crusted doughy sensation with a creamy custard filling. YUH-MMY.
The Atmosphere & Clientele
Destined to be busy attending the highly anticipated press launch evening, the atmosphere was buzzing with classic tunes from the best eras and some favourite genres (soul, funk, house; basically the good stuff) providing the soundtrack. If service is anything to go by, you can expect a posse of friendly and smiling staff still retaining the original HotBox spirit from their street food stage. The place is a thriving hot-spot for London's young, vibrant and hungry crowd owing HotBox it's laid-back diner design.
Definitely living up to their status as BBQ gurus and masters of all manner of meat, the first permanent plot for HotBox is set to reign as a haven for distinctive home-grown flavours and signature hand-crafted cocktails. Their official opening on December 4th is set to be mobbed by meat worshippers for sure.