Following a more than generous introduction from Blues Kitchen manager, fashion enthusiast and chicken wing connoisseur Edd Kiggins, the Blood Brother team went to check out the bar, live venue and smokehouse style restaurant to see if the Buffalo sauce lived up to Edd's declaration... And it did.
Max sat down with Edd over some chicken wings, Oreo Doughnuts and a Bourbon Espresso Martini, while he gave us the low down on the bar and restaurant.
"The first Blues Kitchen originally opened in Camden 6 years ago, and after a slow start, we achieved tremendous success, so we began branching out to Brixton, and Shoreditch."
The ethos of the company consists of the "three B's" - Blues, Barbecue and Bourbon.
Edd went on to talk about the live music aspect of the space.
"There are rotating resident bands, my favourite is a 9 piece brass, rhythm and blues act called Atlantic Soul Orchestra, they usually play on Saturdays, but you can catch other bands such as Brassroots and Old Dirty Brasstards during the week."
Now on to the food... Blues Kitchen is notorious for it's smoked meats and American style sides, but little do people know, they have an in-house "pit boss" who controls the three 6ft high smokers and prepares all the meat, unlike other 'American Diners' who spray the meat after cooking to make them look darker in colour and like they've been smoked.
Their current Burger of the Month 'The Pilgrim' is in collaboration with London based pizza enthusiasts - Pizza Pilgrims and boasts a 70% Angus, 30% Shorthorn patty, Nduja cheese and Italian sauce, with crusted parmesan on the bun, as well as an Arancini ball skewered on top just to make things even more insane.
As for the drinks, they have a huge and eclectic range of bourbon whiskey, cocktails you've probably never tried before, and hard or soft milkshakes that will quite literally blow your mind. While we were chatting, Edd orders me an Espresso Martini, and asks the bartender to use Bourbon instead of Vodka. A minute or two later, while Max, the bar manager is intricately composing three coffee beans on the foam of my cocktail, he says to Edd:
"Yesterday I had a spare 5 minutes so I made one of these but added lemon zest. It compresses the foam slightly but it tastes gorgeous."
Edd smiles and explains that they encourage all their staff to try alterations in their spare time to increase creativity and come up with new additions to the menu.
Every member of staff endures a strict week of training before employment, to ensure everyone has a considerable understanding of the history of the company, the food and drinks menus, as well as the live music info.
Edd explained to me that they cannot label themselves as a bar, a restaurant or a live music venue, but instead, a "spinning plates venue." He elaborates with
"We are committed constantly to doing all 3 to the absolute best of our ability, it's important that we maintain a high level of quality amongst everything we do. We avoid being pigeon holed into one thing."
Edd then went on to explain about their Blue Monday tradition...
"Statistically, the third Monday in January happens to be the 'most depressing' day of the year and is known as Blue Monday. So to lift the spirits of East London, we decided to offer free Oreo doughnuts and milkshakes to everyone eating and drinking in our restaurant and bar all day. We ended up going through about 1,500 doughnuts, but it was worth it as the vibe was so positive."
In conclusion, Blues Kitchen is by far one of the coolest, most charismatic eat-ins I've been to, and since conducting this interview and write-up, I personally have been back twice... In four days... The layout, open space, friendly staff, great music, amazing food and dope customer base ensure that no matter the time, day, weather or mood you will always walk out happier than you walked in.
If you want to 'test-run' Blues Kitchen, Edd recommends popping in on a Friday after work, as between 5-7pm every week, staff walk around with trays of complimentary Buffalo wings for drinking customers to help themselves. I promise you'll be back, and when you are, we recommend the burnt ends and crab doughnuts, or if you're feeling adventurous, then you can even pick your own lobster and eat it in the airstream.
There's no door policy or dress code, but if you're a suit-wearer, just be prepared to take your tie off. Tying it around your head is probably fine though.
Check out Blues Kitchen Shoreditch at 134 Curtain Road.