Low, Slow and Juke, Westminster
On a very chilly 16th February, a guest list full of keen foodies joined together for the Press Launch of Westminster's mostly recently opened restaurant and bar: Low, Slow and Juke.
In anticipation for their official opening to the public on the 18th of February, guests were keen to taste some of the magic that had been slowly smoking away in their kitchen. Low, Slow and Juke is a brand new venue dedicated to celebrating the best of Southern cuisine. Characteristics throughout its interior reveal details reminiscent of the 1930s era: white shutters that instantly reminded me of A Streetcar Named Desire, vintage memorabilia that food was served in and a menu that will transport you thousands of miles away from London.
Look carefully though and you'll notice that this Southern haven fuses the futuristic glare of neon lights, blue, heady hues in dark corners and features some of London's latest food and drink crazes in a concoction of old-style America meets 2030 futuristic dystopia.
Our night kicked off with a delectable selection of smoked cocktails, craft beers and Smoked Bacon Fat popcorn. Pictured here is some Beavertown Gamma Ray American Pale Ale and my first cocktail, 'The Duchess', which comprised smoked rosemary, gin, rhubarb, lime and a sprig of smoked rosemary to garnish.
The cocktails at Low, Slow and Juke boast a technique that London's cocktail scene has warmly welcomed; cocktails that are wood smoked using oak chips or any other similar alternative. This method adds another dimension of flavour and texture to the drink by giving it a smoky aroma that the alcohol and fruity or floral counterparts cling to.
For the 'Jasmine' Cocktail, pictured here, you can see the bartender preparing the glasses with the smoker. The smoke forms the foundation of the drink. Manzana Verde, an apple based liqueur by Edmond Briottet is then added, along with some lemon. The final result provided a really crisp and fresh aperitif before the food.
At 7.30pm, the first round of food was served. These Chilli and Caramel Chicken Wings that are featured as a 'small plate' and perfect to accompany drinks, were beautifully cooked and the sticky coating was sweet, fragrant with a kick of chilli. You really needed to sit down with a good six of these wings, advisably with a load of tissues to assist and a lack of shame in getting stuck in. You'll also find other small plate dishes on the menu that are perfectly suited to the 1930's Southern American theme: Deep fried Mac + Cheese (which we got to taste with the smoked meat), Maple Glazed Baby Back Ribs and Smoked Baby Hot Links.
Enter the Smokehouse. Head Chef John invited me in to this room dedicated to the long, slow smoking of the beef, chicken and pork. This technique is what inspired the name behind this unique Restaurant and Bar.
The meat here is hand rubbed and left for 24 hours before being smoked 'low and slow' for 16 hours at 100°C. This combination gives the meat its unique dry and smoky texture and taste. Southern favourites dominate the choice of mains: BBQ Half Chicken, Beef Brisket and Pickles, Beef Ribs with a BBQ Honey Glaze and St. Louis Slab Ribs are just some of the appetising themed dishes that could have been transported straight from Kentucky or Virginia.
That's not all either. They've even got a fantastic selection of Brioche Rolls and Burgers.
And if you're going for a more KFC bucket style evening where you want to be fighting over the last rib or chicken wing, Low, Slow and Juke offer sharing plates so you be just as grubby as each other. No need to be the awkward one in the corner trying not to get hot sauce all over your face like I was with some of those hearty ribs. There's nothing like meeting new people whilst your hands are covered in hot sauce.
Served with a side of your choice like Red Cabbage Slaw, or something even wilder like the Smoked Bacon Blue Cheese Fries or Parmesan and Truffle Sour Cream Fries, you're set for a night of shamelessly Southern American grub.
Another Southern American motif to accompany the food were the sauces. Freshly made before serving with each dish and presented in these vintage beer boxes. Watch out though, they're real hot and spicy, just like those that come from Louisana.
The desserts are equally if not a greater example of some of the South's idiosyncratic creations that have originated from the early 20th century. To find out what these are, you'll just have to take a visit. I'll certainly be back and I know exactly which Southern-loving friends I'll be taking with me too.
Low, Slow and Juke is now open for bookings and are currently open Monday - Friday 11 -11.
Low, Slow + Juke
1 Abbey Orchard Street
London - SW1P 2LU
020 7222 5084