Camden. Home to London’s tightest jeans, most subversive t-shirts and caps that need a degree in trigonometry to angle correctly. It’s also home to Blues Kitchen, my dining destination on a particular Thursday evening. So I look through my closet to find the most suitable attire for my foray into the world dominated by Amy Winehouse et al. Yes, my jeans are tight, but only ‘cos I’ve put on weight; my top is subversive in that it’s actually a shirt; and as for the cap, well I’ve just spent £30 on a haircut so I’m not letting this bad boy go to waste!
So back to the venue. The Blues Kitchen is the latest venture from The Columbo Group whose portfolio includes well-loved pubs Paradise By Way Of Kensal Green, Albert & Pearl and The Westbury. However, with live daily music, a menu based on American soul food and one of London’s largest Bourbon collections, Blues Kitchen takes on a distinctly different identity to its more traditional British brethren.
The venue is already starting to perk up by 7pm, with large groups congregating in the various booths and around the long bar. The live music, which aims to put rhythm & blues on the radar of the many aspiring local musicians, doesn’t generally start until around 9pm, so these groups are clearly expecting a long night. Fortunately, they’ve got some great cocktails to keep them well lubricated; classics like Julep and Old Fashioned dominate the menu, although they’ve also got a couple of their own creations including a particularly refreshing Grapefruit Julep. At £7 each for big, punchy cocktails, they’re good value too.
The venue manages to do food well too. Breakfast includes favourites such as high stack pancakes with fruit and maple syrup, whilst the main menu contains sharing style dishes, proper meals, as well as traditional New Orleans Po Boy sandwiches. Starters were Blackened shrimps served with Creole tartare sauce and Buffalo wings covered in the most wicked spicy sauce – an absolute must, and great value at £8 for a large portion. For mains, my mighty slab of Ribs were generously bathed in a sweet, sticky BBQ sauce and featured meat which simply fell off the bone. Gumbo was good too, with a punchy sauce full of chicken, prawns, mussels and various other bits. Bad points were needless really. A side of BBQ beans for £2.50 amounted to little more than a table spoon worth (strange considering the generous portions otherwise), whilst chips and onion rings tasted bland and stale. Fortunately desserts made up for any short-falls with a mousse-light Mud pie and a refreshing Key lime pie cheesecake.
Food type: American
Dinner for two (excluding drinks): £50
The Blues Kitchen
111-113 Camden High St