Joe's Southern Kitchen, Kentish Town
It's all going on in Kentish Town these days, with a new restaurant springing up seemingly every day. I've got a list as long as my arm of places I still need to try out there, but luckily I was able to tick one off last week as I was invited to a dinner at Joe's Southern Kitchen to mark their NW5 opening. With a menu boasting Southern classics like shrimp'n'grits, mac'n'cheese and their fancy fried chicken already ruffling a few feathers, obviously I said YES PLEASE.
Joe's already has a restaurant in Covent Garden with a fairly similar menu, but apparently the vibe is really different. To be expected, the CG one is more touristy whilst Kentish Town is striving for a proper neighbourhood local restaurant experience - albeit one with properly good cocktails. Rumdog Millionaire, I'm looking at you, or try the Pickleback if you dare (I did).
Joe's Kentish Town prides itself on the signature Southern Fried Bird - a free range (of course) chicken brined in sweet tea for 24 hours and then fried in a coating about as far away from KFC's as you can get. This is a good thing. Then, there is the lemon dust to finish it all off, which gives the crisp, crunchy batter a definite citrus hit but in a kind of sweet, almost sherberty way. Chicken as good as this is a talent - I know, I've tried to make it in the past. This basket supposedly serves 2-3 people but it's actually plenty even for 4:
Served alongside some incredible waffles and a maple bourbon syrup to die for, this is the kind of rib sticking food your arteries don't even mind taking a kicking for.
Besides, you can always skip the mac'n'cheese, which tasted exclusively of salt to me. Shame, as it promised a lot:
You'd be far far wiser to save your calorie allowance for the delightfully named Gooey Corn Spoon Bread, which is a skillet of corn 'bread' more like wet polenta and thoroughly impregnated with obscene amounts of clotted cream and Red Leicester cheese. Hugely indulgent, this is not one for the faint hearted, but is a really refreshing alternative to the mac'n'cheeses which have surely reached saturation point by now?
I can't recommend it highly enough:
Another oft-neglected side I'd urge you to try is their version of shrimp'n'grits. I wrote recently about my love for this Southern classic, and whilst I know it's not for everyone Joe's offering has been treated with plenty of TLC and is definitely worth a punt:
The sweet, tangy shrimp topping creamy, unctuous cheesy grits really is a lovely thing and it ended up convincing the vast majority of the table in the end.
Another thing you should try and squeeze in if at all possible is their version of the retro cocktail party classic, Devilled Eggs! I did these as one of my Christmas Day canapes this year and they went down *very* well. Here's a pic of mine, and you can see the recipe here:
Joe's are a far manlier version and are served with chicken skin mayonnaise (really excellent) and little bacony crumbs:
Incidentally, I have since spotted Devilled Legbar Eggs on the new Vinoteca Kings Cross menu, so I'm hopeful that they are becoming A Thing. Fingers crossed.
If, by some amazing feat of greed you feel (as we did) that you have room for something sweet, there is one dessert you simply must must must order. This piece of heaven is a Peanut Butter Fudge Pie with a serving of chantilly cream and has to be tasted to be believed. I've never had anything so filthy in my life and despite sporting a food baby of Octomom proportions after all the incredible beige goodness, I still gave this some serious loving.
Whilst writing this post I've literally begun salivating again, to such an extent that Rich is beside himself with jealousy and has made me book a table for lunch there today. So, see you shortly Joe's!
*Big thank you to all the team at Joe's Southern Kitchen Kentish Town and the PR ladies for putting on such a great (complimentary) spread. We loved it.