Review of HotBox London
Newly opened BBQ smokehouse HotBox are fast becoming the pitmaster kings of London. After smoking their way around the capital with residencies at Street Feast’s Dalston Yard, Hawker House and various popups, they have settled into their permanent residence in Spitalfields, East London. Head Chef Lewis Spencer has created an innovative menu that takes influences from not just the Deep South, but also flavours from around the world, including wagyu short rib tacos, and smoked Chinese spiced duck pancakes. Using only the top quality cuts of meat HotBox offers authentic and traditional methods of BBQ cooking to Londoners.
It’s date night but don’t expect a quiet romantic evening of holding hands across the table at HotBox. Be prepared for loud music and conversation, intimate communal seating, surrounded by industrial rustic interior design and fast moving staff.
It had been a long week I deserved glass of red, malbec to be precise. Deep purple colour, a robust rich bodied flavour perfect accompaniment to the red meat dinner. My gentleman companion guzzled down on his fave craft beer Yakima red. Copper coloured with a slight biscuity/caramel taste followed by occasional fruity bursts.
I opted for a light main dish – obvs to bulk up on side dishes – Chipotle beef rib tacos. 2 open tortillas piled with smoked beef short rib, chimichurri, rocket, crispy fried onions and chipotle mayo. The beef was perfectly tender and excellently seasoned. Whatever they put in their dry rub needs to be bottled and sold everywhere! The spiced smokiness perfumed the meat beautifully, with the braised juices keeping the beef succulent and moriesh. The herby vibrant chimichurri against the peppery rocket, crunchy radish and onions were delicate flavours and textures not overpowering the star of the dish the beef! Eaten best rolled up like a cigar and shoved into your gob.
My gentleman friend went for the HotBox smoked selection; Beef short rib, pork ribs, chicken thigh, hot link sausage and pulled pork. Don’t be fooled in thinking that this is man’s choice of main, EVERY woman in the joint ordered the same thing. For 15mins the boy and I didn’t speak! Munching through the array of BBQ meats starting with the ribs, falling off the bone sticky and sweet with a slight charred taste bought back memories of summer BBQs. The melt in your mouth texture of the short rib was soft and tender. with a think layer of fat to retain it’s meaty juices. The skin on the chicken was crisp like crackling, moist white flesh on the bone making the chicken retained its natural flavours. Before I could steal a mouthful of pulled pork it was gone but we weren’t not a fan of the sausage, the flavour was quite pungent compared to the rest of the platter. Everything else was flawless.
I think we got greedy ordering the sweet potato fries but you gotta have chips! Freshly made with a crispy skin and fluffy piping hot flesh. The pickled jalepeno slaw was lightly dressed keeping the thinly shredded veg crunchy and fresh. Tangy, sour with a hint of heat.
HotBox is pretty much a meat feast restaurant but the mushrooms – yes mushrooms! – were epic! I could of eaten just a plate of them and forgotten the rest. Earthy, woody and in season mixture of Japanese mushrooms tossed in a bronzed salty soy sauce. They were a meal in itself, assorted shapes and sizes the mushrooms were meaty and fleshy in their own right.
HotBox London is the go to restaurant for good wholesome Southern BBQ food. This is not a hipster joint, I repeat NOT A HIPSTER JOINT! city boys, girls night out, couples and foodies alike all dined together. The staff were so helpful, the place was rammed but as I watched the food being served to customers the flow of it all was seamless.
Prices are typical of any London restaurant but expect fantastic tasting food made with soul and passionate for authentic smoked meats.
Huge thanks to Emily and Priya for making sure all was good throughout the evening.
HotBox London 46-48 Commercial Street, London E1 6LT