The Blue’s Kitchen have been on the restaurant scene for a while but I went down to Shoreditch to check out their Monday night Rib Night for myself.
Sometime I feel a bit sorry for older restaurants. And by ‘older’ I mean ‘opened more than 12 months ago’.
Kind of like an old dog (bit of a confusing analogy coming up but go with it), a restaurant’s once shimmering glossy coat can soon be ignored as the new puppies on the block barge into the spotlight with their sparkly bells, gourmet hot dogs and cronuts. But wait a moment before you cast them aside, because definitely when it comes to The Blues Kitchen, there is life in the old dog yet!
The original Blue’s Kitchen opened in Camden in 2009 and after a good few years of delighting locals with barbecue and cocktails they opened their Shoreditch branch in 2014, with another venue in Brixton following in 2015. Then a few weeks ago The Blue’s Kitchen crept back into my life once more when their Monday night Rib Night made an appearance in my London food news roundup. Not one to ignore my own advice I went down to Shoreditch that evening to check it out for myself.
Occupying a two-storey Victorian warehouse on Curtain Road, The Blue’s Kitchen is a lot bigger than I thought it would be: with tons of tables, a big central bar, space for a stage and a dancefloor and even an Airstream caravan parked up that back, there is definitely enough room to swing a few cats in here. It’s also much cooler inside than I was expecting with lots of distressed wood and brickwork, rows of whisky lining the bar and a very chilled vibe. It’s actually a pretty nice place, and I can easily imagine propping up the bar with a cocktail after a long day down on the farm (or office cubicle).
After easing into one of their cosy green booths it was time to get down to business. The business of stuffing my face.
Buffalo wings (£6.90)
Regular readers will know that it is physically impossible for me to go to any restaurant and not order chicken wings if they are on the menu. It might actually be a medical problem? But I also feel like they can be a good gauge of a place; a sign of things to come. Either way, we started off with some of the Buffalo Wings. These were pretty big wings with really crispy skin so it felt like they had been fried at least a couple of times. Juicy and soft inside and laced with that delicious sort of tangy, vinegary sauce that I like so much. They were served alongside a lovely blue-cheesey sauce that was so good I just wanted to drink the whole pot. Only my manners prevented me. Very tasty wings. Probably should have ordered a large.
Goat Tacos (£7.50)
Wanting to try something a little more left field as well we also ordered the Goat Tacos and I’m glad we did. Very generous portions of goat meat were slabbed into the little tacos with some red onion, red cabbage and coriander mayo. The goat was a dark, smokey, caramelised, and greasy in a good way, a bit like a cross between lamb and brisket maybe. The whole thing was really soft and tender and the onions added a great twang. I’ve had my share of terrible tacos but these were excellent.
Monday Rib Night (£10)
This was actually the reason for our visit, Rib Night takes place at The Blue’s Kitchen every Monday from 4pm onwards. The offer: two St Louis style pork ribs and a smoked beef rib for just £10. The verdict: phenomenal! The ribs were huge and this was more food than even a hungry grown man (my husband) could handle. The ribs were really good and juicy, not dry at all and much better than most of the ribs I’ve had in London so far. Smoky, sticky and totally moreish. Definitely worth a tenner, and much more in my opinion.
Burger of the Month: The French Connection (£15.50)
As a self-confessed burger obsessive I obviously went for the burger of the month: The French Connection. This was an entrecôte patty topped with grilled foie gras and deep fried brie, and finished with caramelised onions cooked with red wine and Herbs de Provence and then two deep fried escargot popped on the top. It sounds very fancy but do you know what? It was really very good! Regardless of the escargot and all the twiddly bits, the burger itself was really juicy and very tasty, the brioche bun was good and the deep fried brie? Hey, I mean, you’re never gonna not like that are you? But what actually really made it for me was the caramelised onions with the red wine, it gave the whole thing a bit of a sharp note to cut through all of the other rich, fatty flavours and really lifted the whole thing. I thought this was an excellent burger and I will definitely be back for more.
I’m not really sure what I was expecting from The Blue’s Kitchen, I think probably something that was more style over substance, but I was very pleasantly surprised. All of the food we tried that night was on point, I was bowled over by the ribs and the burger of the month was ace. I think what I have learnt is not to take places like The Blue’s Kitchen for granted because they’re actually very good.
Newbies like Red’s True Barbecue may have opened up down the road and probably get a ton of publicity with their donut burger and all their talk about ‘True Believers’ but The Blues Kitchen has been open for a long time and there is a reason why. I’m not saying that that they are the coolest place in town, but if it’s good food and a decent beer or cocktail you are after then these are your guys. Just like your reliable old dog, don’t forget about them, throw a ball around with them from time to time and you’ll remember why you used to love them so much. Then go eat their ribs (oh, wait…?).