As Brixton regulars, we’ve eaten at Bukowski twice now and, while the second visit did not blow our minds like the first, we’ll almost certainly be back for a third round.
First visit we had the burger of the month (now succeeded) which involved, from slightly fuzzy memory, blue cheese and caramelised onions. All I can say is that it was one of the sexiest burgers I’ve had in London – an extremely juicy, messy and tasty slab of medium-rare beef in a brioche bun with sufficient structural integrity to hold it all together. It easily out-shone nearby Honest Burgers (although I am very fond of them also) and would even give heyday-derelict-pub-in-New-Cross #meatliquor a run for its money. My BF compared it to Five Napkin Burger in New York, which is very high praise from him indeed.
Along with this we had Chicano Pulled Pork; also juicy and very yum but served in a bun so in execution almost another burger, which we’d not been expecting; a serving of fries which were good if not massively memorable and some croquettas – of which I can’t remember the details but I know we rather liked. Aside for the burger though, the other star of the night was my spiked milkshake. BF had one with chocolate and rum which was tasty enough but I definitely won this round with dulce de leche laced with kahlua and coffee. Thick and rich and ever so smooth. [insert ‘just how I like my men’ joke here?!]
Second time round, the burger of the month had changed to The Rueben, which involved pastrami, sauerkraut and smoked gherkins. Both being the type of people who pull the pickles out of our big macs, we steered clear of this but did actualyl bump into someone later in the evening who had eaten, and highly recommended this burger. We instead had the Hanger Steak & Chipotle Salsa Sandwich, which was pretty tasty, with good quality meat which combined well with the smoky, tomatoey sauce, but what I would class as a solid dish, not an outstanding one. We also ordered a rack of Grilled Pork Back Ribs which unfortunately were a huge let down.
To start, they were far too dry – the BBQ glaze seeming to have been mostly grilled away and secondly, cumin. Far, far too much cumin. Clearly the key ingredient in the ‘spicy rub’, it was actually all we could taste (or smell) and completely overpowered any other flavours that may have been there. It was actually so overwhelming that, given we’d sated the worst of the hunger pangs on the steak and sides and loathe to waste good pork, we opted to have the uneaten portion – around half a rack – boxed up to take home. (Next day I diligently scraped as much rub as possible off the ribs, doused them in maple syrup and smoked BBQ sauce (the HP kind) and re-grilled them, resulting in a vast improvement.
As unsatisfactory as the ribs were, the visit was saved, rather surprisingly, by one of the side dishes. Initially we were disappointed that the hazily remembered croquettas had disappeared from the menu and, not being quite brave enough to go for the Southern Fried Chicken Livers, we opted for Tobacco Onions (after having to ask our waiter what they were). Oh my. What they were was yummy. And insanely moreish. Long, thin strips of onion, coated in a salt-and-pepper-plus-a-little-something-extra batter and fried until crispy, they were like onion rings’ skinny, bitchy cousin. Which was a good thing.
I definitely hope Tobacco Onions are a permanent fixture on the menu, as despite the patchiness of the second visit, I think there was enough that was done well enough that we’ll be prepared to give the place another chance and when we do, I will be very much looking forward to more of these crispy little delights.
ps: I didn’t take a camera on either visit so, until I get round to going back, all pictures have been pinched from Bukowski’s website for the interim. Any objections, let me know I’ll happily take them down)