Jim Beam and Joe’s Southern Table: Taste of Kentucky
This month I’m doing a lot of travelling about. It’s barely the second week of August and already I’ve visited London and am looking ahead to a wander over to Harrogate.
But first, as I said, London. A flying visit this time to meet another blogger, Si of Two Hungry Men (a chap who inspires incredible Instagram envy – everything is so pretty!), and share dinner at Joe’s Southern Table in Covent Garden.
Joe’s is, as are a lot of venues in London, new to me. Promising Deep South cooking and Southern hospitality, the menu features everything from cornbread to fried chicken, catfish to gumbo. Though we were there specifically to sample their menu created in collaboration with Jim Beam, I must plan a return visit to give the rest of the menu a thorough sampling. The chicken skin gravy in particular – just give me a jug and a straw, I expect we’re going to get along just fine.
Jim Beam, in case you are new to it (you can’t be, can you?) has been around for 200 years or so in Kentucky. Though corn whiskey had been around for many years beforehand, it was in the 1830s that it was discovered that charring the inside of barrels used to transport it, they could remove the smell of the original contents (often previously housing vinegar or preserved fish) and instead add that distinctive caramel flavour.
Fast forward to 2016, and Jim Beam is still one of the most well recognised brands in the world. And this collaboration matches southern state food with Bourbon cocktails. What better way to spend a Friday night?
Our first pairing featured Tobasco honey chicken wings and a honey and vanilla Bourbon Milk Punch. The wings were crunchy coated with that distinctive sour spice of the Tobasco counteracted by sweet sticky honey. The whole menu is an excuse to eat with your hands and get sticky fingers. Though the honey is there, it’s not drowning the wings, the chicken is left to be the main star of the event, as it should be.
The cocktail too isn’t overly sweet, just lightly creamy, enough to temper the heat of the chilli if you are sensitive to it, and the honeycomb garnish is designed to mimic the crumbly coating of the wings while it adds a little gingerbread finish to the cocktail.
Our second pairing featured a Smoked Chickory Apple Sour – the smokiness provided by Laphroaig whisky, so this was always going to be a winner for me. I’d have probably dried it off a touch (and may ask for that next time) but that’s mostly because I prefer savoury to sweet, and seem a little sensitive to the latter.
Sweet, sour and smoky was the nature of our food plate too, pulled pork infused with Jim Beam Apple, with bacon and fresh apple slaw, served with chicken salt fries. It was here that I went from being classy, somewhat elegant lady, into northern bird as I bite happily into the crunchy dill pickle and trickled pickle juice all the way down my arm.
Keeping it cool, obviously.
The deeper sour of the cocktail cut through the sweetness of the pulled pork and though I’ve have liked more chicken salt on my fries (almost always more salt), they were crisp and tasty.
Our final pairing featured a favourite cocktail of mine – the Old Fashioned. Made using Red Stag, it offered a deep cherry flavour, and anyone who knows me, knows cherries are a weakness of mine, as is a good pink burger. And Joe’s didn’t disappoint.
More bacon, and more pickles (which stayed firmly on the bun this time, can’t fool me twice) with Red Stag cured bacon, cheese and more crisp chicken salt fries.
Of the three, I’m torn. Each had their positives – the heat and sweet of the chicken wings with the creaminess of the Milk Punch, the smoky sour of the Apple Sour with the pulled pork and the meaty barbecue of the burger with the cherry richness of the Old Fashioned.
You’ll just have to have them all.
This meal and accompanying drinks were supplied for free by Joe’s Southern Table and Jim Beam. As ever, this doesn’t guarantee a positive review (if anything, I tend to be a harsher critic).
This is a little different to their standard menu, though I think offers a good snapshot at what’s on offer at Joe’s (but I’ll obviously have to head back for a repeat visit soon to verify). However, the attention of the staff, the care that went into the food was evident and we were very happy diners.