Those Shoreditch hangs are a dime a dozen, but HotBox, around the corner from Spitalfields market, has a dark appeal: the low lighting, bench seating, open kitchen and smoking meats is another level.
A casual, yet arresting quality, HotBox draws you in with dark woods, and the barbecue-grilled meats mean you could be in a food-serving speakeasy back in the 20's. But you're pulled into the 21st century with the bench seating and coat hooks on the back wall, keeping it firmly modern, yet fun.
Come to mama
The food is indulgent, slow cooked goodness. Think Creole eats with a serious shot of Texan drawl. You might like the mulatto dry-rubbed Iberico pork steak, or the cauliflower steak for vegans (yup, they're somewhat catered for here). Or, you could try the short rib main my cousin ordered.
The beef falls apart in your mouth, the fat affording the meat a buttery quality, while the slow cooking caramelises the sugars. I fell in love.
I however, ordered the whole chicken. I wish I hadn't ordered so much. It was a generous portion of thigh plus I'd already wolfed down the barbecue jumbo prawns - served with a side of toasted sourdough - with fermented chilli and mezcal butter, my goodness, these were heavenly, but spicy.
In spite of our bulging tummies, we thought we'd plump for dessert. Why not? Our January goals weren't going anywhere. We shared the deep fried Oreo. It honestly wasn't as sickly as I thought. The Oreos, inside their lightly fried doughy casing, remained slightly crunchy, offering the right level of contrast amongst the warmth. They were served with a smooth milk chocolate, warm sauce. I could've drank this alone.
Oh and the home-churned ice cream. I was surprised, it had a lightness to it. As though it had been just-whipped. But combined, the Oreo and ice cream combination was absolutely delicious, a real treat for sweet, but not too-sweet, lovers.
Hot Box is an average-priced eatery, if you're not drinking. My cousins two cocktails cost £24.00, which in my eyes, is pretty bloody pricey. But it is Shoreditch, London.