The first Bukowski Grill opened in Boxpark, Shoreditch in 2011 and has had booming success in London ever since. As it’s grown with popularity, another site opened in the Brixton Market in 2012, and now the fabulous new flagship Bukowski Grill in Soho is fully open on D’Arblay Street. It’s a brilliant new addition to the Soho scene and fits in seamlessly with the diverse and fun-loving vibe that Soho’s known for.
Based on the classic American ‘Diner’, the restaurant on D’Arblay Street is the largest of the three eateries thus far and is kitted out in trendy industrial style; the rough-polished concrete floors & pared back utilitarian furniture give the place a sleek yet functional feel which lets the food do the talking. The open kitchen is a great touch; with the increasing popularity of cooking shows and Food TV, it feeds the diners’ ever-growing curiosity around where their food comes from and how it’s made.
Bukowski Soho is open all day from breakfast through to dinner and they apparently do an incredible weekend brunch, but we decided to go in for a light dinner (light being the operative/entirely incorrect word). I had prepared for the impending calorie intake by eating sweet-bugger-all during the day, so it’s fair to say I was ravenous by the time we rocked up to Bukowski.
First & foremost: kudos to the front-of-house staff. These guys were brilliant & took great care of us. We were sat a table right in the window which made for excellent people-watching-whilst-eating; a favourite pastime of mine, particularly in vibrant Soho.
We got straight into the cocktails; margarita’s all round! The cocktails aren’t jazzy by any means; served up in a tumbler with zero garnish… but, in the margarita’s case, they get the important things right: taste & potency! The cocktail menu is also super affordable averaging around £6.50 per drop (you’d be hard-pressed to find ‘em cheaper in Central London), so it wouldn’t be a bad place to go to get your drink on and have a few snacks.
I tried out their ‘Brixton Sunrise’: mango sorbet, tequila, lime & chilli flakes… I wasn’t a huge fan/couldn’t finish it, as this was basically straight tequila with a bit of sorbet thrown in & served with a teaspoon. This was not ‘my drink’. No huge issue though, as there was a sensational drinks selection alongside the cocktail menu: boozy milkshakes, a good range of beer & vino, bourbon & whiskey shots and even some organic Yuzu Sake!
We then had the tricky decision of choosing what to eat. The variation is crazy-good – such a range, which is what you want in a diner-style joint like this one: wings, smoked fish, confit duck, pulled pork, soft shell crab – the list goes on! A massive downside was that unfortunately there was only one vegetarian option in terms of a main; yeah, these guys are known for their meat – but vegies have needs too, Bukowski crew!
To start, we went with the half rack baby back pork ribs served with spicy red onions & pickles; these met expectations in a big way. Sticky and crispy on the outside but moist and succulent at the same time, the charring on the classic BBQ glaze was a highlight & the meat came away from the bone with ease. This is how you want your ribs and Bukowski nailed it. We also ordered deep-fried macaroni cheese, served with cheese and pickle liquor, smoked gherkins & spring onions; this starter was a personal highlight for me – gooey + crispy + cheese + pickles, yeah… I’m into it. Props go out to Bukowski for all of their house-made sauces and condiments too, they’ve got these down-pat. The tobacco onions were coated in a smoky spice mix and deep fried; I can imagine they’d be great in a burger but they were a bit oily and odd to eat on their own. The skinny fries were nothing to write home about – a little dry and no audible crunch – I feel like if you’re running an American style joint, your french-fry game wants to be fierce. They did have other options (chilli cheese fries or sour cream & coriander) which both sound pretty delectable; perhaps we’ll give those a run next time.
Fried Chicken Thigh & Buttermilk Waffle with Green Chilli Maple Syrup + the Vegetarian Burger were the mains we sided with. The choice to use chicken thigh was the right one; super flavoursome and cooked well (not at all dry), the buttermilk waffle was light & crispy. I didn’t quite feel the heat of the chilli in the maple syrup as I’d hoped, but it was a good combo nevertheless.
The Vegetarian Burger was nice enough; the onion chutney was well-tasty & you can’t beat a glazed brioche bun, but perhaps a smoky chipotle mayo or some chilli in the squash & kidney bean patty would’ve lifted it to something more noteworthy. Bukowski are renowned for their burgers, but this one didn’t blow my mind.
Unable to fit in another bite, we naturally ordered dessert. We agreed to share the Salted Caramel Soft Serve Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Brittle – that’s my kind of dessert… alas, their ice-cream machine was broken. That news brought on a pain deep down in my soul that I’d soon like to forget; but we recovered from the heartbreak and proceeded to order the chocolate pot with rum raisin cream, a good shout on our part. At only £3.50 the dessert was of modest portion size, which is all you need after a feed like the one we just devoured. The chocolate mousse was bloody delicious and a nice dolloping of rum raisin cream on the top was a winning combination.
We both enjoyed Bukowski Grill; great location, a nice chilled-out space, superb service and most importantly, good tucker & booze at a reasonable price. Barely able to move, we walked out of there feeling jolly & satisfied.
Contact: Bukowski Grill – 10 D’Arblay St, London W1F 8DS. Ph. Website.
Lucy grew up in Wellington, New Zealand, moved to Melbourne in 2010, and moved to London in 2015. When she’s not busy travelling, she indulges in her other favourite pastime: exploring this amazing city, one restaurant or bar at a time. Always keen to hunt out delicious cuisine at a good price, unique hidden gems and of course, a touch of decadence for those days when you just gotta treat yo’self. Weaknesses include, but are not limited to: Pinot Noir, dark chocolate, IPA & blue cheese.