An invitation to try a new reptilian starter at Blues Kitchen on Camden High Street led to an overall great night out that was way more down home and delicious than I’d hoped.
Okay so this current craze for American food in London seems a teensy bit over the top to this expat Georgia boy. And even when I eat something I like at whatever stateside-y joint du jour, it still very much feels like a British interpretation of something foreign. I’ve gotta say though, my dining experience at Blues Kitchen on Sunday night during the restaurant’s weekly open mike jam made for a thoroughly American evening.
Service was on the ball (server Natalie was especially friendly and helpful). Water was brought to the table soon after seating. Booths were spacious and comfortable. Portions were massive and meaty. The drinks list was a long and engaging read (they serve Trader Vic’s Mai Tais!). Despite being strongly tempted by the bar’s extensive range of whiskies, I just stuck with a couple of bottles of lager while there.
I was there to get a taste of a new and rather novel offering on the menu: fried alligator tail. My assumption was that this was going to be some goofy “dare ya” sort of dish without any real flavour. It was actually pretty good though.
Filleted and smoked for an hour with Blues Kitchen’s blend of Jim Beam and mesquite chips before being coated fried in Cajun panko bread crumbs, the little reptile nuggets were served in a small tin dish alongside some fresh mint and sweet chilli sauce. Yeah – as you’d expect – it kinda tasted like chicken but also a little like lean pork. The texture was tender much dense. I thought the mint went particularly well with it.
At £13.50 the small dish o’ gator ain’t cheap, especially next to a comparably sized plate of very tasty Buffalo wings for six quid. Still, I reckon alligator is worth trying – maybe share an order among your friends. Whatever you think about eating alligator, it’s certainly a good conversation starter. And apparently, alligator meat is lower in cholesterol and fat and richer in omega 3 and protein than both chicken and beef.
For my non-main, I tried another new item from the menu – pan fried Cajun catfish – which I was really yummy but maybe kinda pricey at £13.50. Kemey was with me. She had and enjoyed a main course of seafood jambalaya (£14). We shared side orders of sweet potato fries (£3.50) and crunchy slaw (£3) as well. Both were munch-worthy. Oh yeah, we might have had some shakes for dessert too. Needless to say, we rolled out stuffed and content.
I’d be pleased to return. There were a number of other items on the menu I’d like to try: okra curry, pulled pork, soft shell crab burger …
Okay so all the above gobbledygook pertains to the Kitchen side of the equation. What of the Blues?
It was fun to be at Blues Kitchen while the jam session was on. The house band absolutley rocked. The guest musicians and vocalist were of varying talent, but all were decent and mostly of a better quality than a lot other open mic performers I’ve encountered through the years. Also, I complained a bit about the prices of the food, but we were listening to live music for free. I think a lot of shows at Blues Kitchen have a cover but are usually free if you get there early.
Blues Kitchen is located at 111-113 Camden High Street, NW1 7JN. If you’re going in the evening and hoping to grab a table, I recommend making a rez – it was standing room only from early in the night. Find out more at theblueskitchen.com.