Hotbox, Commercial Street

The food at Hotbox is probably best summed up by Timeout London – “meaty barbecue masterpieces”. I couldn’t agree more. The restaurant is run by husband and wife team Basit and Preeya Khagram-Nasim, who have invited us in to give their updated menu a whirl.

The dining room is a simple space. There are long shared tables with benches meaning getting cosy with your fellow diners, whether you want to or not, is inevitable. There’s a fun and lively atmosphere though.

We start with tacos. Beef short rib is topped with pickled scotch bonnet (£7 for two) which provides a tickly heat but nothing too overbearing. The meat is soft and fatty. Mutton Barbecoa (£7 for two) is also fat heavy but the feta cuts through the richness. Well made tacos too.

Buffalo wings (£6), drenched in both hot sauce and blue cheese, is a reminder how good a simple classic can be. The light coating on the wings retains its crunch to the last bite.

A tomahawk pork chop (£12) is as perfectly cooked as you could hope. There’s a charred exterior which brings some bitterness to the otherwise sweet, blushing pink pork. Naturally, the crispy fat is my favourite part.

The citrus and sumac rub on the smoked chicken (£11) gives the skin an unusual flavour; one we find totally moreish. The chunks of chick are moist and drenched in a fiery Arbol chilli sauce which brings a tear to my eye.

USDA beef short rib (£17) really is that term I loath ‘melt in the mouth’. The Hotbox kitchen has a one tonne rotisserie smoker which uses a combination of kiln dried hickory and oak, where they cook the meat for hours. The result is something quite special.

Smoked mac & cheese (£5) is decent but doesn’t quite reach the same dizzying heights as the meat. It’s not quite wet and cheesy enough for me.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth order the deep fried Oreos (£5). They are coated in a donut-esque batter which gives way to gooey, molten Oreos. If that’s not good enough, there’s a whopping jug of hot chocolate sauce. Oh, and a scoop of Cornflake ice cream.

Hotbox is a fun place to devour some seriously impressive meat. Service is sweet and friendly too; even though the place is rammed they seem in control throughout. It may have been there for years but this is a restaurant certainly worth revisiting.

Would we go back? Yes
We dined as guest of the restaurant