I’ve loved Hotbox every time I’ve come across them at various food markets and events. Their ribs at Ribstock 2014 were spectacular and their burger at the last National Burger Day was also a winner. So I was pretty excited to try out their new brunch menu at the permanent digs just down the street from Spitalfields market. The menu is a mix of BBQ favourites and other comfort foods and they offer a bottomless Prosecco/mimosa/bloody mary option for an extra £25. Staff are friendly and attentive and the décor modern if not particularly comfortable for long stays.
What you need to know
- Food is very reasonable priced with most main dishes being £9-15
- Get the ribs – you can’t go wrong with them
- You can get multiple rounds of drinks at once to maximise your boozing efficiency
- Seating at the large tables are mainly hard benches – not the most comfortable for a long stay
Food: ★★★☆☆ Service: ★★★★☆ Atmosphere: ★★★☆☆ Value: ★★★☆☆ Overall: ★★★☆☆
There isn’t much of a bar area in Hotbox as its really geared towards the dining crowd. However, in the area there are a number of pretty decent pubs, any of which are great for relaxing while your group gathers. I like the Ten Bells as it’s pretty easy to get to from both Liverpool St and Shoreditch Overground and is only a few minutes walk away from the restaurant.
What to eat?
I opted to move away from my usual order of ribs and pulled pork and tried out a brunch favourite – chicken and waffles. Bad move. While the chicken itself was decent (crispy with tender meat but could have used a bit more punch flavour-wise), the waffles were barely worthy of the name. I’d rather have had a round of Eggo waffles than the flat cardboard with a grid design that was served up. It’s something that shouldn’t be too hard to rectify – hopefully Hotbox can get some proper Belgian options to liven up the dish.
Others at the table went for the pork ribs and the pork hash. The pork ribs come slow cooked and nicely glazed with your choice of “mild” or “wild” sauce (the wild is based on scotch bonnets I believe). True to form, the rib meat was succulent and the glaze imparted plenty of flavour. I didn’t find the hot sauce to be as intense as you’d expect when hearing scotch bonnet but it did give a bit of a boost to the meal. The hash was generously sized and quite hearty – definitely a person choice for a hangover brunch.
How about a drink?
Now here you have some options. Hotbox has a small but fully stocked bar and I spied some pretty appealing espresso martinis being made and carried out. That being said, if you are in for a boozy brunch then the £25 deal for bottomless mimosas, Prosecco, and 5 different bloody marys might be just the ticket. The Prosecco is quite decent and the mimosas add a bit of a healthier spin to the whole thing. But it’s the Bloody Mary range that steals the show in my book. The 5 options range from spicy and smoky to clean and refreshing so there is something for everyone. I personally don’t enjoy the average Bloody Mary but these I’d happily drink all day.
To top it off, there doesn’t appear to be an obvious time limit per table but I imagine its somewhat in line with “you can keep drinking as long as you’re eating”. That being said, they were happy to line up the drink orders so as soon as you were nearing the end of one, they’d bring over the next one so you were never dry.
Worth the dosh?
Provided you stick with the BBQ strengths, the mains are a damn good deal. The booze option is a little steep at £25 if you just fancy a couple of glasses as you’d need to have about 4 to break even. But if you fancy a bit of a piss up, then you’ll definitely get your money’s worth!
Find Hotbox here