Friday, July 7, 2017

Down-Home Southern Cooking in the Heart of London at Stagolee's Hot Chicken & Liquor Joint

American Craft Beer

It seems everywhere you look these days in London there's an American-style restaurant popping up... This started with the diner craze a few years ago and hasn't lost any steam with BBQ and burger joints becoming all the rage with hungry Londoners. Some places are nailing this trend, staying authentic to traditional American fare, adding their own unique spin to it while others are simply missing the boat... I have often gotten the impression that some restaurants are serving up USA-style cuisine and have yet to set foot stateside to actually sample the real thing. Stagolee's in Fulham is the exception, standing out among the noise and offering a menu filled with authentic, Southern-style food & drinks. For this American girl, it's a welcome addition to the city - necessary even!

Chicken Wire Light Fixtures

From the minute you spot Stagolee's it stands out. It's not your typical London restaurant, but looks more like something you'd see in a small town in rural Kentucky or on a trendy street in Charleston, South Carolina lined with Southern Cafe's and BBQ hotspots. The bright red frontage is catchy and really stands out. Walking through the door, I was instantly transported to the American South... With wooden floors, vintage photos on the walls and chicken wire light fixtures, it's like a time warp out of the hustle & bustle of London to a place where time moves a little slower, everyone says "Bless your heart," pie is a daily staple and no one will think twice about having an extra piece of chicken.

Stagolee's Hot Chicken & Liquor Joint Stagolee Mural

The name of this little West London eatery is a Southern story in itself... American criminal Lee Shelton, known as Stagolee or sometimes Stagger Lee murdered a man by the name of Billy Lyons on Christmas in 1895. Shortly after, folk, blues and pop songs were written about the incident often referring to Stagolee as a bad man, making him a legendary symbol of toughness in American folklore. The name is perfect for this Hot Chicken & Liquor Joint and should you fancy yourself as bad as Stagolee, go ahead... Order the super hot Tom Devil Chicken and wash it down with some 'shine... Yes, you read that right - there's even moonshine on the menu. When it comes to getting a taste of the South in London, Stagolee's Hot Chicken & Liquor Joint is the real McCoy!

Nashville Hot Chicken

Hot Chicken, a local delicacy in Nashville, is the signature dish at Stagolee's and it's what you want to eat when you go there. If you're a little sheepish about eating spicy food, then just order one piece on the side and get the fried chicken or fish instead. It's worth it to try the Nashville Hot Chicken since this is probably the only place you'll get an authentic version this side of the Atlantic, or even outside of Nashville. I once tried to make Nashville Hot Chicken and I didn't get it right, but Executive Chef and Co-Founder Ashley James has nailed it. Crispy on the outside, this Southern favourite isn't anything like a buffalo wing. While it is quite spicy, the heat is only in the crispy coating - once it mixes in your mouth with a juicy chunk of chicken it mellows out just enough. If you're really brave, ask for some of the homemade hot sauce... It's pretty amazing if you like spicy sauces, but be careful - a little goes a long way!

Macaroni & cheese, carrot salad and southern greens

It wouldn't be a proper Southern restaurant without sides that are 'so good they'll make you wanna slap your granny' as my own granny used to say. Macaroni & cheese, Southern-style greens, sweet potatoes and carrot salad all feature on the menu. There are two things you'll find on the sides menu at Stagolee's that are in my opinion, quintessential to the perfect Southern food joint: crinkle cut fries and cornbread. I grew up eating crinkle cut fries and cornbread was served on our dinner table at home probably 3 times a week if not more when I was growing up. The cornbread is sweet and as crumbly as you like, but still moist and it's a necessity for soaking up whatever's left on your plate!

american bar

The bar at Stagolee's is fully stocked with pretty much anything you could want to wet your whistle from the southern states. American craft beers are on tap or if you're adventurous, order an American Boilermaker, an old school beer & whiskey pairing. You can of course order wine or bubbles if that's your preference, but I'd encourage you to dig into some of the harder-to-find American spirits if you're up for it. The bourbon selection alone is very impressive with 16 different choices on the menu. Bourbon aficionados will appreciate the Premium selection which features the very rare and elusive Pappy Van Winkle 15 yr and 23yr. Whisky tasting flights are available if you're not sure which one to try and they range in price from £15 for the Mountain Dew flight to £100 for the super premium Mack Daddy flight. Each tasting flight is themed and suitable to different preferences, so I'm sure you'll find one that suits you. 

homemade pickles in mason jars

Stagolee's also serves up a selection of signature cocktails that are well worth a shout. I tried the Espresso Moontini made with Chocolate and Vanilla Moonpie Moonshines, Mr. Black coffee liqueur and double espresso. It was amazing! If you don't know what a Moonpie is, trust me - it's delicious and such a Southern staple that you can find Moonpie General Stores dotted all across the South. I'm particularly keen to go back to Stagolee's to try the Stagecoach Mary, a variation on the traditional Bloody Mary named after a Tennessee slave named Mary Fields who later became a Wild West hero. If that doesn't take your fancy, the Mountain 'Rita, a Southern variation on the margarita looks pretty darn tempting too! I also tried the Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka on my visit to Stagolee's and it's so deliciously like a glass of sweet tea that it could be dangerous, so I can recommend tasting that as well... If drinking isn't your thing at all, not to worry. There's nothing more Southern than good ole fashioned homemade sweet tea and Stagolee's offers free refills on this favourite, but don't be surprised if it makes you want to sit a spell and chew the fat.


One of the things I loved about Stagolee's is the great American tradition of sitting at the bar. Pull up a bar stool, order a glass of your favourite and maybe if you're lucky, the bartender will tell you a story... Sit, sip and don't forget to order a snack. Pimento Cheese is as Southern as sittin on the porch and Old Bay Popcorn is the perfect nibble for soaking up something delicious at the bar.

Bonuts

Dessert at Stagolee's is quite possibly the funnest part. You don't want to miss out on the Bonuts, mini doughnuts made with buttery biscuit dough and served coated in sugar with cream on the side. When I was a kid, we used to roll up store-bought biscuit dough and pop it in the deep fryer all the time, so this is an upgrade on that old fave from my childhood in Kentucky. Alternatively, there's a dessert chosen and prepared by Chef Ashley daily. When I visited it was a silky smooth key lime pie. Either way, you can't go wrong.

chicken and cornbread

Stagolee's is a great way to get a taste of the American South without ever stepping foot on a plane. It's unique, authentic and most importantly, really fun! Also traditional to its inspiration, it won't cost you an arm and a leg to eat there... You'll find Stagolee's at 453 North End Road in Fulham, just off the Fulham Road and only steps away from Fulham Broadway Station. The restaurant is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday and for brunch (yes, they have a bottomless brunch option too!) on the weekends. Call 020 3092 1766 or email info@stagolees.co.uk for reservations or for more information, visit stagolees.co.uk


* Special thanks to Stagolee's for collaborating on this post. While food and alcohol tastings were provided, all opinions, photos, views and Southern speak are my own and in no way influenced by Stagolee's or any other parties associated with the restaurant. *
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