This past weekend we had dinner at hotbox, a BBQ restaurant in East London – a couple minutes from Aldgate East Station. We go here a fair bit, probably 4 times this year already, which in itself ought to say something. We first became aware of the restaurant at Street Feast (Street Feast is a bloody heavenly assembly of the best food trucks and traders in London – a lot more to come on street feast, believe me). I, Amen, tried the beef rib, it was wonderful and I was hooked ever since. So, during one of the street feast intermissions, my cravings for the beef rib led Shiima and I to the restaurant.
The restaurant, in regards to atmosphere, is pretty much what I’d hoped for. Not at all pretentious – well, maybe a tad, it is East London after all. It has a rustic décor (BBQ restaurant, so fair), low lighting, and the seating is most parts communal. The music is fantastic – old school hip-hop mostly – and I find myself bumping my head and singing along, much to Shiima’s annoyance, which only makes it more fun :). The service is perfect. A bit of prompt and relaxed service.
Now, let’s talk about the food. As I mentioned earlier, I love the beef rib, it literally falls off the bone. I was raised eating very seasoned food, so ordinarily that’s my preference, but this beef rib isn’t seasoned that much, it’s just right, and it comes with a mini jug of BBQ sauce on the side. Tastes so good, it’s the best dish here for me. Shiima doesn’t eat pork or fish, so she can only order the BBQ Baby Chicken. Thankfully though, she really likes it and I do too as I always steal a piece – this I where I add that the portion sizes are very generous. Again, the BBQ chicken isn’t overly seasoned with BBQ sauce, it’s just right for her and I, and I’m more on the extra hot side and she’s more lemon & herb (weak stuff lol).
We’ve been there several times so I’ve tried a fair bit of menu. But I think I’ve seen the entire menu being presented and eaten. In regards to the other mains, the burgers look so juicy and very tempting, same goes for the pork rib and the lamb shoulder – I want em all, but maybe in the future, if I can ignore the beef rib lol.
The side dishes, we’ve had em all. Special praise has to go to the pickled jalapeno slaw – fantastic. Sweet potato fries are sweet potato fries, but they always delicious in my estimation. I’d recommend those two, but you can’t go wrong with any of the others, be it the Mexican corn or the smoked mac and cheese. They have some extras that can be added your meal, and I recommend the pulled pork – the texture of the dish isn’t that consistent, but the taste surely is. The hot link sausage is good too. But, for whatever reason, Shiima and I had the smoked chicken thigh once and never ordered it again, although I don’t remember us not liking it.
In conclusion, it’s a top notch BBQ restaurant with a cool vibe and with good value. We usually spend about £70, but bear in mind that neither of us drinks, but we (especially I) eat a fair bit and we most times share a dessert. Speaking of drinking, there is a really nice bar downstairs, you should try it, I haven’t 🙂
Dress Code: Casual (trainers are fine)
Amen’s Star Dish: Beef Short Rib
Shiima’s Star Dish: Pickled Jalapeno Slaw
Price: £25-£30 each
Rating: 4.5 out of 5