Already well-established in Brixton and Shoreditch, chef-owner Robin Freeman’s Bukowski Grill has just opened its third branch in the heart of Soho. The latest location sits amid the trendy coffee shops, juice bars and restaurants along d’Arblay Street.
The menu is inpired by an American diner, with classic dishes such as burgers, ribs, chicken wings and sandwiches, all showcasing good quality British produce. During the week, a breakfast menu is also available, on the weekend that expands to a brunch offering.
Decor is modern industrial (unfinished ceilings and floors, painted walls), and spacious – the chairs are far more comfortable than they look and tables are nicely spread out rather than on top of each other. There’s a view into the open kitchen a the back and the bar runs along one side of the room.
The drinks menu is a good one; Pete enjoys a pint of Meantime’s Yakima Red on draft (£5 a pint) and I’m pretty sure that no other cocktail I try this year is going to top the frozen cherry bo (£6) from a very affordable cocktail list – bourbon, cherry and vanilla in a slushie format, this is utterly marvellous and I could happily while away a summer afternoon getting progressively happier on this!
The spiked milkshakes appeal too; dulce the leche and kahlua peanut butter or banana and bourbon or chocolate and rum (£5.95 each). That first one is on my list to try next time we visit.
Our first starter is puck nuggets with kimchi remoulade (£5.95). To remove the guesswork for you, puck = pork and duck, though I imagine it’s also a play on the puck shape of these treats. Soft, soft pulled meat has been bound in a spicy sauce, then crumbed and deep-fried and is utterly delicious, with or without the accompanying dip. When I say spicy, I mean it, by the way. But then again, I’m a chilli wuss!
We also enjoy a half rack of baby back pork ribs with spicy red onions and pickles (£6.15) which are again, very good. The classic barbeque marinade has a more gentle kick of heat than the puck nuggets, the meat is beautifully cooked – tender but not pappy – and the accompanying onions and pickled gherkin are spot on.
Burgers are the draw here, so we go for two and share. The fat gringo (£9.95) includes a beef patty, Monterrey jack cheese, candied bacon, jalapeno mustard, red onions, tomato, lettuce and a smoked pickled gherkin. Like all of the burgers it’s served in a brioche bun, though you can switch bun for salad if you prefer.
The flavour combination is excellent, and the ratio of all the elements is just right – that jalapeno mustard against the sweet bacon is the big hit. It’s a bit of a shame to be asked whether we want the patty cooked medium or well done (we choose medium) and then have that ignored but since the patty remains juicy, it’s a minor disappointment.
Burger number 2 is the bourbon bbq chicken (£6.95) which features grilled marinated free-range chicken breast, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo and a bourbon bbq sauce. I’m super impressed at how moist the chicken breast is; so often far too dry. The flavours are once again, excellent, and the brioche bun holds together well.
Prices for burgers don’t include sides, which makes the price of the fat gringo a little steep; it comes in at £12.70 with a side of plain skinny fries.
We go for beef dripping potatoes (£3.50) and chilli cheese fries with sour cream and coriander (£4.95), both of which are great choices, if a little too much between two – if you’re having starters, one of these between two is plenty!
The beef dripping potatoes are essentially deep-fried roasties, and absolutely everything I’d ever want in a roast potato! Super texture, super flavour, all round magnificent!
The chilli con carne served on the fries has a classic chilli flavour and texture (not too sloppy, but not dry either) and is a great match with the fries – my main suggestion for improvement would be to serve the fries in a wider and shallower dish, allowing the topping to be spread across more of them. Add a small extra pot of sour cream too and these would be perfect.
Oh and I must give a shout out to the condiments, all home made. The pickles are super but so too is the homemade tomato ketchup on every table – sweet, a hint of chilli and delicious.
Shared dessert is chocolate pot with rum raisin cream (£3.50), a well-sized pot of rich and tasty chocolate mousse topped generously with whipped cream and rum-soaked raisins. Lovely to have smaller desserts available for a sweet note after such a filling meal.
We both really like Bukowski Grill. The food is good, that’s certain. But I also like the space itself, welcoming without being achingly hipster, and friendly service too.
We’ll certainly be back – I want to try the buffalo cauliflower fritters, the smoked chicken wings, the swaledale lamb cutlets with smokey chilli jelly and the smokey beast burger – a beef patty topped with smoked pulled pork, smokey honey and a chipotle bbq sauce.
Kavey Eats dined as guests of Bukowski Grill Soho.