Christian Huhnt recounts an evening of rock ‘n’ roll at the opening party for Hollywood Road’s latest venue, Honky Tonk
When you hear about the opening of a London-based “underground NYC inspired rock ‘n’ roll restaurant,” the last thing you expect is to find it in the very heart of an area that estate agents now call “Little Chelsea.”
So, my companion Steffen and I headed off to determine what this mystery may be, and to learn what the owner, who is supposedly involved in The Supper Club, was willing to reveal that night. As soon as I arrived, I found myself sipping a chilled drink, while listening to some Screamin’ Jay Hawkins vibes. “The Gringo,” a mix of tequila, juice and wheat beer is described as “a delectable intertwining of Mexican and British” on Honky Tonk’s drinks menu and it is just such.
As I was pushed deeper into the venue, away from the bar at the entrance, I felt I had been left alone in the middle of Shoreditch, with a 60s-inspired retro-American “highway diner” flair interior of unrendered walls, raw lightbulbs, Formica tables, and pierced and tattooed modern-hippy looking 20-somethings; only the pretty waitresses reminded me, that I was in fact not in a greasy US-diner, but at an opening in Chelsea, West London.
When it came to the food, served as canapés, it again became clear, that I was in SW10. The “not” fried chicken, as the waitress educated me, is only coated with a “special recipe” and then oven-baked. It has as much crispy pleasure as it would have had fried, but it is far healthier and plainly designed so as not to dispossess the figure conscious guests of this elite neighborhood.
Almost finished with this delight, I tasted the next dish on the menu: New England crab cakes in a chili-mayo sauce, followed by little potato skins loaded with chilli con carne and sour cream. As I wasn’t sure anymore if this food could be solely called “good old-fashioned American bites,” the next dish was most definitely the tip of the iceberg: the macaroni cheese, apparently the “Baked Beans of America,” the synonym of cheap grub, the epitome of total culinary absence. Here at Honky Tonk, though, they controversially served this with a porcini béchamel and truffle oil sauce, along with roasted wild mushrooms. Believe it or not, it worked and it was bloody good.
While getting in the mood with another fancy drink, one of my favorites by the way, I tried a rum and ginger beer concoction topped with a slice of lime and listened to Elvis Presley’s Mystery Train playing in the background. Whilst enjoying this, I realise that the Chelsea boys and girls have arrived and are mingling with the hip East London crowd. I have seen this lot at many other openings and can’t assume they were shipped in, but nonetheless the spot is suddenly buzzing and a great evening follows.
Honky Tonk promises to deliver the New York vibe, bringing cool Blues, Jazz and Rockabilly tones with regular live music to the heart of posh Chelsea. Well done so far.
Honky Tonk, 6 Hollywood Road, London, SW10 9HY. Telephone: +44 (0) 207 351 1588. Website: http://www.honkytonkchelsea.com.