Joe’s Southern Kitchen & Bar
Covent Garden’s renowned Navajo Joe has been transformed by the Maxwell’s Restaurant Group and re-launched as Joe’s Southern Kitchen and Bar, striving to bring the best in a new wave of Deep South cooking that looks beyond the burger to bring even more variety to London’s rapidly evolving culinary landscape.
The venue is set over three floors in a converted warehouse, with a speakeasy-type bar in the basement offering a massive range of cocktails designed by award-winning bar manager Marco Piroli, which feature original takes on Southern classics, and an exclusively American beer list. The cocktails were fantastic and looked great, such as the Nucky (inspired by bootlegger Nucky Thompson), the American Pie, and a Bloody Mary that was voted “European Champion of Tabasco based cocktails”. Drink in hand, simply reading the food menu is enough to build an insatiable appetite, with dishes that are far too rarely seen in other restaurants.
Of the starters, the delicately crispy exterior of the Corn and Monterey Jack Rice Balls contrasted perfectly with the succulent and moist Cajun mustard and red pepper combination, bursting with flavour and creamy moisture. The Popcorn Shrimp with Chilli Lime Salsa and the Slow Braised Beef Brisket Chilli Cup were equally incredible in both taste and portion size, offering the little kick for which Louisiana is famed. But the standout winner was the Southern Fried Wings with Tabasco Honey that would easily rival and possibly surpass the quality of wings in any restaurant in the capital.
Of the main dishes, the enormous Deep South BBQ Short Rib was simply perfect. The stringy and intensely rich meat fell off the bone at the touch of a fork and with the creamy whipped potatoes, the combination was completely satisfying. The only let-down was the Mac n’ Cheese, which was just a little flavourless. Thankfully the whole bird Beer Can Chicken rectified this disappointment immeasurably and will undoubtedly cement Joe’s as must-visit hotspot.
For desserts, it was a joy to end the meal with a Pecan Pie that was sweet, crunchy and insanely moreish. Unfortunately the Strawberry Fool Sundae was not quite up to scratch– it looked great but failed to excite.
Overall, Joe’s Southern Kitchen and Bar was a welcome change from the frequently disappointing Deep South food on offer. The location is spacious and well designed, and balances a bustling atmosphere with appropriate intimacy. The service staff were very knowledgeable, friendly and attentive, and the speed of the drinks service improved as the night progressed. It is a truly impressive restaurant that really puts culinary excellence and soul at the forefront of its ambitions.
Photos: Steve Taylor
Joe’s Southern Kitchen and Bar: 53/60
To book a table at Joe’s Southern Kitchen and Bar, 34 King St, London WC2E 8JD, call 020 7240 4008 or visit here.