Sunday, 31 May 2015
I have never been to Brazil. Odd, given that any native I have met has invariably been sunny delight - no more so than the fun-lovin' trannies that hung out in a club I DJ'd in Paris when the weren't floggin' their fake fannies in the Bois de Boulogne. Another salad days stint, slinging hash in Downtown Manhattan's Sounds of Brasil, left me with a taste for feijoada, caipirinhas.... and the music. To Jorge Ben, a regular performer at the NYC diner/ dancehall, I learned to bossa and samba like a carioca; although some heavy lubin' of dem done-in lower limbs will be needed should you demand a demo. While carnival in Rio, and Niemeyer's modernist architectural gem Brasilia, are on my bucket list, for now, there's this new NW1 'boteco', a sister to Camden's original Made In Brasil. With over 12,000 found in Belo Horizonte alone, the boteco is a bar where street food is usually also served. Here, lurid airbrushed street art in a series of steamy saloons, and an all-weather verandah, provide a convincing backdrop for live bands and DJs spinning samba, bossa and mod beats Brazilian. The main draw? Juicy Rio-style rinses - tropical fruit-flavoured caipirinhas, all the more rewarding when offered at £4.50 on happy hour. With over 250 different brands, the bar boasts the biggest display of cachaça in Europe, I'm told. Discover Brazil’s national spirit in martinis such as Acai Berry or Cafezhino (£7.25) Made with juniper berries, crème de violette and maraschino - Santos Dumont, named after the Brazilian flying machine inventor who astonished Parisians by looping the Eiffel Tower in 1901, is the bar's take on the Aviation. Order share platters from £15 and tuck into ‘petiscos' (tapas) such as cassava and salt beef balls, palm heart salad, peppered squid with aïoli, salt cod cakes, grilled halloumi and vegetable skewers that, fortunately, I am no longer forced to serve, to pay the rent on a cockroach-infested walk-up in Manhattan's Avenue A and 1st, a no-go, crack-fuelled, violent slum as dangerous as any Rio favela back in the day.
Thursday, 28 May 2015
Set in the bowels of its new Kentish Town branch, Joe’s Southern Kitchen's bar ‘makes the most of its history as a police station’s cells.’ A bare, bland, boring, blood-red, windowless box; hatch bar aside, ugly, backlit swing doors, the room's main feature; tinny-sounding 80s hairbrush diva pop instead of the promised Northern soul, blues and rockabilly: you reckon, guys? One staff member claims they ‘are working on the decor.’ Hmm. Work also needs to be done on a cocktail list that our perplexed waitress admits is “very girly.” Judging by joyless jam jar serve Maple Pie (Jim Beam Maple, lemon, apple juice and ‘apple pie syrup’), cloyingly sweet julep, Kentucky Cousin, and an £8.50 Bulleit ‘Bullish Negroni’ that left us distinctly bearish, the girl that inspired it is sad-arse Southern twerker, Miley Cyrus. Picklebacks, Brooklyn lager and £5 margaritas may keep some boys happy but this boy can't help thinking this soulless pit is no improvement on poitin-serving Irish speakeasy Shebeen, Jailbird's predecessor. We pass on wings, hot dogs, mac’n’cheese and pulled pork bun on the basis that the popcorn shrimp we do order has somehow morphed into chewy Chinese-style fish balls by the time it reaches us. "That is how popcorn shrimp should be" imagines our server. Yeh, and my name's Aileen Wournos! Before my inner serial killer is unleashed, we bust loose: a night in a real slammer could be no worse than my brief incarceration at Jailbird...so long as a bent bobby slipped me a bottle of JB, a bacon butty and a cashmere blanket.
300 Kentish Town Road NW5