This is where the hashtag #FoodPorn was born. Surely.
Well, well, well. Duke’s Brew and Que. You cheeky little mothers. I mean, we’d certainly heard the rumours and Lord knows people talk great stuff about you behind your backs but really? To serve us food like that without at least a forewarned hint as to what to expect first? Shame on you.
See, us lot at I Love London Town are seriously huge fans of any meat-based feast there is going. I, myself (Rachel) grew up in a household where I was fortunate and privileged to be the sister of a true, original barbecue obsessee so believe me when I say I know what the hell I’m talking about when it comes to charred chops.
That said, nothing -NOTHING -could quite possibly have prepared us for the God-sent gift that was an evening at a Duke’s table in Haggerston.
We fell out of the miserable London rain and into what was a hot, bustling cacophony of violatingly loud chatter and cool American-style decor. Vintage-coloured booth style seats, shabby wood panelled walls and warm low-slung lights made this overly busy restaurant feel less packed and chaotic, more popular and cosy.
We made our way to our table by the window and immediately the ridiculously friendly staff -or “John, mate…”, as he quickly introduced himself as, began copiously feeding us ales and cocktails without choice and we flippin’ loved him for it. The beers were all sublime (try the sour cherry one if you’re feeling particularly frivolous, as we were on a damp Tuesday evening) and each and every cocktail I supped on delivered in its own way. Not even ‘satisfied’ in its own way -I mean really freakin’ delivered.
But the food. Oh, London, the food. Nothing disappointed. Not one single part. We went for the dish which well and truly separates the men from the mice, that being Duke’s Greatest Hits, which consisted of all their most famous and favourites. Pork ribs here, pulled pork there, a beef rib so huge it made my entire head look like a mere garden pea. Throw some slaw in there with some sauces and you’ve got yourself a platter of beautifully filthy perfection.
Most people might be satisfied with sharing such a dish over a glass of red whilst spouting poetic prose to one another over ketchup-covered interwoven hands but screw that. We also went for the infamous Duke’s burger because we were feeling feisty and really wanted to put this place through its paces. Then, feeling especially troublesome, we threw a serving of bacon covered mac and cheese into the mix to really turn things up a notch. It should have felt wrong but believe me, based on how all these dishes tasted it was so beyond right. The entire meal was utterly flawless; the ribs cooked to juicy perfection, the burger more flavoursome than some of London’s ‘best-you-can-get’ burger claims and what’s more, even the slaw floored us.
We finished this sordid, tastebud-stimulating love affair on an incredible note. Was it the high of the night? Possibly. Were these the best desserts we’d tasted in a very long time? Definitely. I’m absolutely not afraid to be honest if something was average but the sticky toffee pudding and the Peanut Butter tart was, hands down, gloves off, clothes off, whatever… it was 100% easily the best dessert course I’ve ever had at a restaurant. Usually at least one dessert is a bit below par, right? Both of these blew our socks off and left us wanting more, despite feeling like we’d eaten enough meat to re-populate Hackney City Farm.
I left Duke’s Brew and Que wanting to track the chef down and send him a Christmas card. When this place first opened you had to queue round the corner. Well, I’d be happy to queue all night for another meal like the one we’ve just had. Though I’m glad I didn’t have to. I’m fairly apprehensive about posting this review for fear of queue-inducing reactions from you meat-loving lot but I’m going to proceed because I’m bloody nice like that. Thank me later. For now, go get freaky with Duke’s menu.