The Beautiful South | Joe’s Southern Kitchen, 300 Kentish Town Road, London NW5 2TG
Joe’s Southern Kitchen has a new outpost! Not content with just having their central Covent Garden location, they have ventured a little further north to Kentish Town. We were lucky enough to be invited along for a sneaky peak (and a belly-busting preview meal) only a day after its official opening.
The new branch’s position is great, a mere 30 second walk from Kentish Town overground/underground station. This part of north London is Saff’s old stomping ground, she lived up the road in Tufnell Park before I made a (not so) honest woman of her and moved her down to Kent. And not even a good part of Kent, sorry Saff.
She was maybe more excited about going ‘home’ than she was about visiting the restaurant. But that excitement was short lived as we walked though the doors with the evening sun streaming through the window and the smell of Southern food.
The space is airy and open with a huge window facing out to the main street. Decor is what you expect these days – filament bulbs, exposed brickwork etc etc. But the tableware is more refined than the Covent Garden branch, here they have dainty mix and match vintage-style floral patterned china plates. No tin trays and enamel here! Absolutely love the kitsch gravy boat too, where can we get one of these?!
As mentioned earlier, they had only been officially open for just a day and the whole place was still box-fresh with a faint whiff of paint. Considering the newness, the owners and staff have ironed out any teething problems (assuming there were some). Apart from an odd tasting Espresso Martini (swiftly rectified) the service was extremely smooth and confident, we didn’t feel like we were in such a newly opened restaurant.
The Jailbird Basement Bar was yet to be completed (it may well be finished by the till this post goes live), that only gives us the excuse we need to come back. Apparently this bar used to be a police station and alcoves that were originally used as cells have been transformed into cosy drinking booths.
Our specially prepared sample menu was designed to showcase a little of what JSH had to offer. As always we started with a cocktail, my Bullish Negroni (£8.50) was just how it should be, bitter and strong with plenty of ice and an orange twist. Saff’s Hola Lola (£7.50) a refreshing and exotic blend of Brugal Blanco rum, lime juice, passion fruit, passion fruit juice, vanilla syrup and Cherry heering was ‘far too easy to drink’.
After, I stuck to the classics – a very good Amaretto Sour (£5) and an Espresso Martini (£5). While Saff was a little more adventurous and ordered up a Maple Pie (£8.50) with Jim Beam, maple and apple pie syrup, tasted exactly as it’s named.
Joe’s website says that their ‘dishes are designed for sharing with friends, getting your fingers dirty and your face sticky.’ And they are not wrong, eating should always be this fun (note to self, don’t wear a white shirt next time). First up were Mama’s biscuits, traditional light savoury scones that are usually served with gravy, but ours came with a delicious honey butter (they also serve them with homemade seasonal jam and clotted cream at breakfast).
The menu features many of Joe’s Covent Garden favourites but the chefs have made numerous visits to the States to perfect and refine some new dishes, must have been a tough job. The Deep fried short rib meat loaf (£8.95) coated with Japanese breadcrumbs and served with red onion jam, poached egg and dijonnaise is a new addition, it’s meant for sharing but I could have eaten the whole lot.
The Mac ‘n’ Cheese (£11.95) – curly pasta, four cheeses and a biscuit crust, had a strong cheesy flavour from the first forkful to the last. Another winner are the Devilled eggs (£3.95) with chicken skin mayonnaise and bacon crumbs – plate lickingly good. Oh and the Shrimp n’ grits (£16.95) were fab, if a tad on the expensive side. I try grits where ever they are served, Jackson + Rye used to be my favourite (sorry guys – we still love you) but Joe has taken their king of the grits crown! Although not in Saff’s case as Jackson + Rye‘s don’t contain cheese.
These grits had the lot – loads of cheese, red onion, roasted tomato (the menu says ‘melted’ tomato, not sure if that’s even possible!), grilled shrimp, shredded house cured bacon and Camden Ale jus. The Gooey corn spoon bread (£3.95) with clotted cream and Red Leicester cheese was another winner, soft and creamy but so filling.
But our mutual star of the show was the Southern fried chicken (£12.95 for two pieces) – coated in their signature new recipe of sweet tea brined fried chicken with lemon salt and Tabasco honey, served with waffles, chilled watermelon, bourbon maple syrup.
If that wasn’t enough, the desserts emerged. Luckily we got to sample all three – Iced honeycomb & chocolate parfait sandwich, Peanut butter fudge pie with chantilly cream and Southern pecan pie with Jim beam honey cream (all £4). The fudge and pecan pies were both good but they pale into insignificance compared to the brilliant honeycomb and chocolate parfait sandwich. Shame we had to share – as this dessert had it all.
Our sample menu was just the tip of the iceberg, the full menu is packed full of all the classics (48 buttermilk marinated chicken wings anyone?) topped up with Southern comfort food just like Mama used to make (well if your Mama’s from the Deep South!) Joe’s will also be serving up cracking breakfast and brunch menus which will also feature American favourites that have been given the Joe’s treatment. Looks like Saff will have another couple of reasons to visit her old patch…
300 Kentish Town Road,
London NW5 2TG
Telephone: 020 7485 7331
Opening hours: Monday to Friday – 8am to midnight
Saturday and Sunday – 9am to midnight.
Book a table online here
Nearest station: Kentish Town – overground and tube (2 mins walk)
We ate as guests of Joe’s Southern Kitchen, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.