American barbequing in Spitalfields
Category : Restaurant
| Cuisine : American,
Address : 46-48 Commercial St, The City , London, E16LT, UNITED KINGDOM - Directions
Web : www.hotboxlondon.com
Opening Times : Tues-Sat 6pm-12pm; Thurs-Fri 12am-2.30pm; Sat 11.30am-2.30pm; Sun 11.30am-6pm
Closest Tube : Aldgate East
The path from pop-up to permanence is one that has been well trodden. Still, it's always a pleasure to welcome one that is particularly good to the fold. We came across Hotbox at Street Feast's Hawker House food festival in Haggerston, and, a couple of glasses of bourbon and beef ribs later, were fully enamoured with the Hotbox fare. They've taken the same lip-blazing, rock and roll approach to American barbecue and put it on display in a bricks and mortar site just south of Spitalfields. The results are fiery.
Hotbox is not a first date restaurant. Loud music blares through crackling speakers, food smells waft out of the open plan kitchen, where waiters mill about, and there's a fair chance that you'll spill some of your pulled pork on your pants. Where Hotbox really excels though, is meat with heat.
On our visit we kicked things off with some pints of Redhook Longhammer IPA, short rib beef tacos and what they call the Hot Smoked Selection. The former was really well conceived and probably rank in the pantheon of London tacos; wrapping a pliant corn tortilla around smoked beef short rib with rocket, crispy shallot, chimichurri and chipotle mayo. The only shortfall that it had were there weren't enough of them, with a trenchant feeling of loss when we finished the second.
The Smoked Selection is essentially a platter of everything they've got: pulled pork, hot link sausage, chicken thigh, pork rib and the beef shortrib. It also comes with a quite piquant barbecue sauce. We had a lot of fun here. The meat was all perfectly smoked so that it collapsed promiscuously under the fork and the dry rubs and sauces are seriously spicy.
The sides deserve acclaim as well. Smoked macaroni and cheese was peppered with jalapenos, that, when caught off guard, really smouldered. Grilled elote (usually Mexican corn with paprika and queso fresca served on a stick) also kindled a buccal cavity conflagration. These were gently offset by the starch of some sweet potato fries. We were keen to get into the deep fried Oreos but they'd sold out by the time we were ready for dessert, but I can think of a lot worse things in the world than heading back down Commercial Street to try them out alongside some of the other menu options.