Thursday, 18 August 2011

How The Blues Helps Those In The Carnivorous Club

By Rebecca Brett.

I’m sitting in Camden’s Blues Kitchen bar on a Tuesday night with a pal and there’s not one empty table. As the live act is gearing up for her set there’s a buzz in the air that makes this mundane midweek day feel more like a Friday night. The huge space in which Blues Kitchen is set is dimly lit and the mixed crowd of arty types and music aficionados are supping on cocktails and beers.

I turn to my friend and say “You’d never get this in Battersea”, talking about my quiet part of SW London that’s more yummy mummy than Blues Kitchen cool. Then we go on to discuss the possibility of moving somewhere much trendier and less middle aged than Battersea, and the reasons why so many people head to this particular venue in Camden over anywhere else.

Here are our findings:
Reason 1) The live music. Perhaps the chaps and chapesses filling the room are fans of the lovely Bex Marshall who is strumming away on her guitar on the stage and saturating the room with her soulful tones.

Reason 2) The massive selection of bourbon available. It is, after all, what Blues Kitchen is most famous for; they’ve got over 50 on their list and there’s a bartender behind the bar stirring and shaking away to his heart’s content making concoctions for the gathering crowds.

Reason 3) The hot waiter, Charlie. I’d probably go back to see the charmer every night, what a lovely chap with a cracking smile and some steely biceps. Perhaps that’s why the ladies make their way here anyway.

Reason 4) To spy on celebs. It was reported that Pete Doherty played his first gig here after he recently left prison and the likes of Seasick Steve and The Mystery Jets have also had sets at the venue. I’m no muso but I’m sure that’s pretty darn cool (I would say that, I wear a twin set and live in Battersea…)

[What’s a twin set? - Ed]

And reason 5) the reason why we’re here tonight, to eat kudu. After all, it’s carnivore club Tuesday! It’s not something you’d usually associate with the music destination of choice but every Tuesday in August the restaurant and bar are serving the likes of crocodile, zebra, kudu and bison to anyone who’s brave enough to try it.

My friend and I are brave, not that you really need to be. It’s not like we’re eating anything gross like pig’s brain or cow’s heart. All you need to do is love meat and I can certainly do just that.

To start the night I had a Dark and Stormy, the only one I’ve ever tried before was at the Oxo Tower Brasserie and I loved it, so this bartender had a lot to live up. He did a good job, for sure. Slurped within about three minutes I had to order another drink. Had to. So this time a full bodied glass of Chilean cabernet sauvignon was deemed a good choice to accompany our gamey treat to follow.

I’m not quite sure why, but I expected the meat of a kudu - which is an antelope from Africa (Wikipedia told me) - to be a white meat but it was actually more like venison and cooked medium. It was juicy and full of flavour. We shared the huge sweet potato wedges, coleslaw and a mixed leaf salad as side orders but the star of the show to me was the peppercorn sauce. It was incredible. I’m not sure what they put in it or how they make it but it really was delicious. Dear Mr Blues Kitchen, please may I have the recipe for that?

Even though the meat from kudu is very lean and with hardly any fat on it, it was still very filling. Not filling enough for us to skip dessert and head off on our merry way.

Aside from the Bourbon, Blues Kitchen is also a milkshake destination and after the lovely Charlie twisted our arm (I would have done anything he said really) we shared a vanilla and peanut butter shake and a warm chocolate brownie with vanilla ice-cream. We couldn’t finish the shake, which, by the way, comes with so much extra it’s definitely worth sharing. We asked our dishy waiter to join us to help us out but with the place so packed he kindly refused (clearly thinking we were mental) and scurried off to the next table.

Now we were full and, as Bex got on with her set, we did have to leave NW London and head home to the quieter climates down the Northern Line. After all, we’re not used to the late nights that these Camdenites are clearly down with, especially not on school nights.

But I’ll certainly be going back to Blues Kitchen, whether it’s on ‘kiss the waiter Fridays’,‘See Pete play Saturdays’, or ‘hair of the dog Bourbon Sundays’, all of which I have made up but here’s hoping.

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