VALUE FOR MONEY: 2.5/5
VENUE & ATMOSPHERE: 4/5
Note: Alcohol is served on the premises. All meat is halal.
I’ve visited Stax on a couple of occasions which left me reasonably content. That’s why I was quite intrigued to see what their sister restaurant, Boondocks, had to offer following its Summer launch. SA, Pecknarm and I arranged to meet at Old Street station. In true South London style, Pecknarm was late, so SA and I skipped over to Boondocks (approx. 10 minutes) to order a cheeky mocktail whilst waiting.
It was instantly clear that Boondocks had way more to offer in terms of decor and atmosphere compared to Stax. Boondocks provides a more pleasant dining environment, with two spacious floors and decor reflective of a country South/blues theme. The walls are plastered in music sheets, with various instruments and props hanging from the fairy light draped beams overhead. I was actually quite impressed with the overall vibe.
All three of us ordered ‘The New Yorker’ mocktail which included a blend of lime, apple, mango, ginger beer and mint. Sweet, tangy, fizzy.. but warm. It was okay, by the time the ice melted my thirst was sufficiently quenched. We were all starving, so ordered a large portion of buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce and animal style fries topped in caramelised onions, burger sauce, and cheese sauce to share. For mains Pecknarm ordered the buttermilk chicken and waffles with maple sauce, whilst SA ordered The Buffalo Chickadee, a burger containing blue cheese sauce, buffalo sauce, coleslaw, and maple glazed beef bacon. I wanted to try something which was absent off the original Stax menu, and so was instantly drawn to the ‘Southern Specialities’ section. I ordered the Blue Plate Special, which included fried chicken with country beef gravy, corn, mashed potatoes and buttermilk biscuits.
The food was a little slower than average to arrive, which was strange considering the restaurant was relatively empty at this point. The rather large portions of starters arrived first which were incredibly satisfying. The buffalo wings were crispy, hot, and tender, smothered in tangy garlic sauce with a spicy kick. The accompanying blue cheese sauce was miles better than any I’ve tasted before, with the strong taste of creamy mature cheese immediately hitting my tastebuds. Having developed this new wings obsession, I’ve sampled a fair few portions of buffalo wings lately, and this portion was definitely in my top 3. I was impressed. I then tasted the animal fries, which were again spectacularly tasty and probably contained a monstrous number of calories (I’d rather not think about it). Starters completed, I now had high expectations for the mains… my mistake.
My blue plate special came with a large helping of tender fried chicken breast, however the fried batter itself completely lacked flavour, and I don’t recall even tasting any salt in the batter. Furthermore, although I was expecting the chicken to be topped with gravy, it instead arrived dolloped in a lumpy, semi-cold, yellow, thick sauce, which didn’t look or taste very appetising. The sweetcorn was dry and borderline crispy. In fact, the best thing about this meal was the soft, fluffy, cheese mash and the ‘buttermilk biscuits’ which were actually similar to Caribbean fried dumplings. Unfortunately, there was not enough ‘gravy’ for me to dip my dumplings into so I couldn’t enjoy these to their full potential. Pecknarm expressed a similar distaste for her buttermilk fried chicken, emphasising how the crisp batter lacked taste, making the entire chicken and waffles experience quite dry. Of the three mains, I think SA enjoyed her chicken burger the best (playing it safe paid off!), although her feedback was that the beef rashers were tough and that the coleslaw made the entire burger bun soggy, causing it to disassemble upon consumption. Not great. I was really disappointed. I didn’t finish my meal and was deterred from ordering desserts.
Honestly speaking, I wasn’t won over. Despite certain parts of the menu offering some new and novel concepts, overall I didn’t feel like Boondocks had anything particularly noteworthy to offer but blues decor, good blue cheese sauce, and an overall blue experience. In comparison to Stax, I would say Stax is still slightly more appealing, although I recall that my last visit there was also so-so. The service was okay. The bill came to around £75 in total, roughly £25 each. Too pricey for me and I definitely wouldn’t consider it value for money. I feel maybe my disappointment was accentuated by the hype surrounding Boondocks all this time. Never mind.. plenty more American burger joints in the sea.
Address: 205 City Rd, London EC1V 1JT