You may have heard the name The Blues Kitchen if you’ve ever been to London. With a small collection of sites around the city, this venue group channels old school rock 'n' roll vibes into a menu of Southern-style bites, Bourbon-laced cocktails and raucous live music nights. While in Manchester for the weekend, I was eager to try this new location (having only ducked into its Brixton site once for a couple of drinks) and boy, were we met with a party.
There was an instant electricity filling the space, with groups gathered over plates of food, celebrating birthdays, date nights and the long-awaited return of partying. The sound of Etta James, Marvin Gaye and James Brown filled the room, with their faces plastered on the walls like they were divine figures. The decor meanwhile, had a New Orleans speakeasy feel, with dark wooden panelling and leather booths which have become synonymous with the brand.
I started with a Kentucky mule (£9.50) as the Rolling Stones blasted and groups around us started to sing along, teasing what would come later. It was warming, refreshing and had a subtle kick from the whiskey. This came paired with the buffalo cauliflower (£6.95) which had an instant hit of spice, served hot and cooked to perfection with a crispy exterior revealing a soft inside. Lathered with cashew cream and garnished with herbs, it was a flavoursome start and a pretty substantial portion to kick things off.
Sticking to the Bourbon, my next drink was a Boulevardier (£9.50), when in Rome or Louisiana in this case. The flavour reminded me of a smoky negroni, so I was satisfied to say the least. For my mains, I thought it would be a good idea to opt for the eye-catching crispy aromatic no quack burger (£12.50). Now, I’m not a knife and fork to the burger type of person, but I had to make an exception in this case, because I was dressed for the occasion and not prepared to coat my trousers in hoisin. Nevertheless, the faux duck was succulent, coated with sweet sticky sauce and met with a welcomed crunch from fresh greens. The whole thing was delicious. I finished off with a vegan choc chip whisky-laced hard shake (£8.50) for dessert and got ready to head upstairs for the show.
I had my flowery flares on, a couple of drinks in me and I was ready to hit the dancefloor like I was grooving through the streets at Mardi Gras. The party room was packed to the rafters, it was reminiscent of pre-COVID days with blues rock blaring, espresso martinis (£10.50) on tap - which I had to try - and people dancing like nobody was watching. A sense of pure joy was in the air as we all sang along to classic anthems from the live band. Honestly, it was something I had missed for so long, making the whole evening thatmuch more special.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Having garnered a reputation for raucous nights out in the capital, you best believe The Blues Kitchen is bringing old school party vibes to Spinningfields. Having made some truly fantastic memories here, I urge anyone to go here for a night of whiskey sipping, Southern dining and late night dancing - with a banging soundtrack throughout it all... New Orleans would be so proud.
💰 The damage: Slightly under £60, the live music is free to enter (just sign up to the guestlist).
📍 The location: 13 Quay Street, Manchester M3 3HN.
👌 Perfect for: Really, really fun date nights.
⭐ Need to know: Head over on a Saturday for the chance to catch the legendary house band.