East London

Published on December 18th, 2014 | by Sophia Longhi


Hotbox, Spitalfields

Hotbox, Spitalfields Sophia Longhi

Summary: HOTBOX embraces barbecue and takes it to the next level, succeeding in bringing the immediacy and passion from street food culture to a restaurant audience


Craft Meat

After enjoying roaring success as one of London’s most raved about pop-ups, HOTBOX have now set up permanent residency in East London’s trendy Spitalfields. Preferring to be known as a craft meat restaurant rather than a BBQ joint, HOTBOX does large-cut, slow-smoked, ‘caveman’ meat alongside more refined dishes that have taken inspiration from Asian cuisine. What to expect in three words? Craft meats, beers and cocktails.

Their permanent venue on Commercial Street retains something ‘street market’ about it: long bench tables and an industrial-inspired interior, which you don’t tend to notice too much when you are so distracted by the tantalising, meaty aromas coming from their industrial smoker in the back. This is a place that uses contrast well; manly hunks of meat, with delicate cocktails; simple plates accommodating sophisticated dishes.

You’ll find an intriguing menu that meets the expectations of Deep South-influenced barbecue food, which is then twisted on its head – for example, smoked beef rib tacos. We tried Mac ‘n’ cheese arancini at the launch party, served with a tangy spicy sauce. Crispy on the outside, filled with soft pasta and gooey cheese, it is a party of textures for the mouth and its bite-size serving made it a great side next to more robust meat dishes. Not yet on the menu, but a fine example of HOTBOX’s inventiveness.

Wagyu Tacos

Wagyu Short Rib Tacos

If meat is what you want, meat is what you’ll get, prepared using traditional cooking methods interpreted in a contemporary way. The prime beef short ribs are USDA graded and slow cooked so that the meat literally falls off the bone. We also enjoyed pulled pork buns (sweet and smokey) and the fish glazed pork belly masa tacos, which were light and fresh but didn’t hold back on the meaty kick. A selection or two from the innovative cocktail list completes the HOTBOX experience – we tried a vodka and bergamot concoction, infused with grapefruit and sherbet. Sharp and refreshing, it is the perfect way to cut through the meat flavours.

Hotbox Ribs

HOTBOX embraces barbecue and takes it to the next level, succeeding in bringing the immediacy and passion from street food culture to a restaurant audience, without losing any rawness or inventiveness. The already well-fed and watered food and cocktail lovers of East London will no doubt be celebrating their new resident.


Hotbox, 46-48 Commercial St, E1 6LT

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About the Author

Lioneye Media lionesses, Sophia and Rebecca, can tweet with one hand whist sipping an espresso martini with the other. Dedicated food, wine and cocktail connoisseurs, they love nothing better than scoping out London for its best bars and restaurants. Follow their exploits and breakfast pics on Twitter @LioneyeMedia

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