Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Duke's Brew & Que Hoxton American BBQ - an oasis in the wilderness

Dukes Brew and Que Hoxton American BBQ review

Address: 33 Downham Road
London N1 5AA
Tel: 020 3006 0795
Nearest Overground station: Haggerston

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £20 pp
Service charge: 12.5%
Taste: ***
Service: ***
Ambience: ***
Only American's southern cooking can batter a piece of sirloin steak, fry it like a piece of chicken and not actually ruin it. I did a double take on the American brunch menu at Duke's Brew & Que. No mistake about it; it did read Chicken Fried Steak.

The last time I had a good southern chicken was at Jimmy's Grill & Bar. Easily the most popular buffet dish, I managed to grab only a couple of pieces before the platter was cleared out. A merely mention of "southern fried chicken" just opens the floodgates to the salivary glands. That's how potent those chicken chunks.

Dukes Brew and Que Hoxton American BBQ review
My phone's camera gave up on me but I did manage to take a shot when I was on my way to the loo

Let's be honest. The chicken chunks can be rather bland if not for the liberal use of salt and herbs in the batter. The batter is all that is. Without it, it's just dry white meat beneath. Unless the meat turns out to be a steak with a heathly dose of "Southern white gravy". I'm not sure what went into that white sauce but there's little doubt that milk and butter feature greatly. If not for this sauce, the chicken fried steak (£13.95) would be much less of a joy.

And no, I didn't get home fried diced potatoes and toast with the steak as promised by on the menu. Instead, I got fries with enough salt on them to put Nandos' peri peri salted equivalent to shame. It reminded me of a failed experiment by MacDonald's (or was it Burger King) that had us adding a sachet of salty spice powder into a bag of fries before shaking the concoction.

The BBQ Omelette (£8.40) is one of those three eggs wraps. Unlike the French, Americans make sure they feed you well. The omelette wrap was almost bursting in its seams. Filled with smoked beef churned with cheese cheddar and Montery jack, you'll stumble out with cholesterol clogged arteries  It's one of those dishes that you relish tucking into but regret ordering the moment you clear the plate. Pretty much like the Wasabi's katsu curry rice.

The crowd at Duke's Brew and Que is a motley mix. There are families with very young children on one end and people tucking their heads between the arms nursing bad hangovers on the other on a Sunday morning. Perhaps for the lack of Sunday roast places near Haggerston Overground station, Duke's Brew and Que was packed on that day; even all the benches outside were filled. While what we had didn't exactly blew us away, I've heard good things about its BBQ Ribs and Beer. I'll be going for that the next time round.

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