Let me take you back a few weeks to the hottest day of the year (and indeed on record for some parts) and the first of new regularly scheduled Lady Dates* between a food blogger and her bestest girl buddy. It was a Wednesday, it was central London and it was too hot for any of the trains to run any faster than half speed so obviously after a minor financial crisis in Galleria Melissa (d’oh) the only choice was to head a few doors along King Street for some fried chicken and hot sauce.
This location wasn’t entirely serendipitous, infact it was the very cause of our being in Covent Garden on that sweaty summer day in the first place. You see I missed out on a trip to Joe’s some time ago for reasons-in-law of some sort which I now forget and remained petulant about for a while. Months passed, moods settled and I again had reason to be in the big smoke to see a drawly southern singer perform in the evening. What better warm up for this than a few beverages around a classic American menu, heavy on the deep south theme and I must say serving double portions of the oft mentioned hospitality of the region.
Joe’s Southern Kitchen is an airy, trendy eatery with a slightly industrial feel serving a mixture of cheekily named cocktails (No Woman No Rye for the win) plus craft and euro beers around a solid modern-american menu which is a lot cheffier than it may appear on first glance. There’s a lot of chicken, in parts or whole, plus short ribs, slow cooks, burgers and the expected array of sides. We Want Plates fans should check out the Prison Plate.
Although you will want it all to yourself, it is a great menu to pick and share from as frankly choosing one thing was nigh on impossible so these late lunching ladies started up with Southern Fried Wings and a freshening watermelon and goats cheese salad. Crunchy little wings spiked with tabasco sauce and just the right amount of honey to balance out the burn with sticky sweetness. Absolutely delicious and the kind of food I could eat for every meal. Seriously they were amazing.
For the main event- the short rib with slaw and the soft shelled crab in a bun, fries, collards and the best corn bread I have ever had the joy of adding to my order as a naughty afterthought. Soft, sweet fluffy bundles of yellow carby joy, perfectly placed to help sop up all that Sagres beer. Bestie had never come across corn bread prior to this day and I believe she enjoyed it so much that she now reminisces about those muffins with the look of someone remembering a tender lover or their first trip to Tiffany’s. The short rib was one of the better that I have experienced in this price-range of restaurant though I have to say we went against the golden rule of going for the special. Going for the famous dish. Go for what they do best, and that my reader is the chicken. If my senses hadn’t been dulled by the weather and too many start up cocktails I might well have mugged our table neighbours of the whole chickens that they wisely ordered. All the more reason for a return visit.
Yes, it’s quite trendy and yes this is becoming a common theme for eateries at the moment- you can’t move for pulled pork and slow cooks with chilli sauce served in a funny bottle and your fries in a tiny bucket- but doing it doesn’t always mean doing it right.
Joe’s don’t get it right, they nail that sucker.
The culinary performance is flawless- great service, quirky decor, fantastic food. Little touches bring a smile to your face like the frozen beer steins and kilner jar sides, not to mention belting in-house BBQ and Hot Sauces on your table. Clean up with your branded handy wipe afterwards because you’re going to be enjoying the feed far too much to care about getting it all over your hands. And face. And elbows, somehow. You really can’t take me anywhere.
So this is the slightly longer version of the short version, which is Eat At Joe’s Southern Kitchen. Or order some in to eat at home, because they do that too.
*Lady Date: prescribed period out of the house avoiding all chores, dish washing and stinky boys for the purpose of gossip, emotional support and over consumption of fine foods. And beer.