“You have to try the fried chicken with hot sauce and honey. I know it sounds weird but I promise it works.” Not sure if the waitress is pulling my leg or being serious, I remain skeptical until a huge tray of golden-brown fried chicken is brought out with a squeezy bottle of runny honey. She’s right of course, this apparently American tradition of serving sweet with savoury works perfectly.
It’s little surprise that the staff here know their fried chicken. An offshoot of a New York establishment, the newly-opened Brooklyn Bowl incorporates a diner-style restaurant and a large bowling venue in the O2 and they definitely take their fried chicken very seriously, with the choice of “dark” and “white'”cuts of meat, or a mixture of the two. Their signature platters are a welcome contrast to family buckets and Saturday night bargain boxes – perfectly fried, not greasy nor soggy and in a well-seasoned coating (which resembles the texture of oats rather than flour) that keeps the meat tender and soft. Like the rest of the menu at Brooklyn Bowl, their signature fried chicken platters are served in homely, generous portions – we were advised to order eight pieces between two, but bear in mind that this is basically a whole chicken.
Strangely, the platters are served with slices of hard, deep-fried white bread which can’t really be explained. A side of Rock and Roll Fries, doused in gravy, Cajun spice, provolone and cheddar is also slightly over-the-top. It’s a poorly-executed take on poutine and sadly the combination of flavours get lost amongst the soggy fries.
While these accompaniments were slightly disappointing, the flavoursome starters were more than adequate. The pork rinds were delightfully light, with a brilliant texture that popped and crackled on their way to the table. Served with coriander, jalapeños, red onion and queso fresco, they had a punch that made the dish a personal favourite. Some great seafood also featured on the menu, with a distinctively Cajun theme – fried calamari with lemon and cayenne mayo and Cajun shrimp cocktail with cocktail sauce and spicy mayo (complimentary from the chef) were both flavoursome and delicious. Our hospitable waitress also recommended the Potato & Onion Knish, with sour cream and deli mustard, a delicious rustic-looking cross between a quiche and a pasty baked in homemade pastry.
Much too full to try out any of the other delicious-sounding mains, such as the Fried Catfish Jumbo Sandwich or a Half Rack of Pork Ribs, we instead took a look at the dessert menu – which is split between Shakes and Floats and Sweet Treats. The Root Beer Float was slightly disappointing (unfortunately tasting more medicinal than refreshing and unfortunately limp in flavour), however the Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding, with vanilla ice cream and fudge more than made up for it – a decadent and rich combination with a punch-in-the-gut density that made a great end to the meal.
Brooklyn Bowl has all the atmosphere of an American diner with a satisfying menu that is full of transatlantic interpretations of classic American dishes. There are some hits, and some misses, but overall it’s a great place to enjoy a taste of Americana with some great hospitality.
Photos: Francesca Capra
Brooklyn Bowl: 48/60
To book a table at Brooklyn Bowl London, The O2, Peninsula Square, London SE10 0DX call and for more information visit here.