The demand for Kapow deliveries is already the stuff of local legend.
I may be exaggerating. But not by much. Theirs is a mischievously old school approach. The ribline goes live at 7pm: within an hour they are sold out. Reports of 50, 60, 70 and more attempts on the night are not uncommon: over weeks, some have racked up attempts in the thousands.
Statistically you probably stand more chance of seeing Nigel Farage front the Wu-Tang Clan than you do of landing a delivery slot: of which, more later, because it’s about to get much easier.
Frustration is high, acclaim even higher. Kapow is a hit, a palpable hit, from local culinary hit machine John Cook.
Now, I’m not saying I was thorough in my research, but I’m writing this based on eight half-racks and a smattering of sides. The first six? The original barbecue. They are marinated, cooked overnight in a water bath, wrapped and delivered. Your end is easy: in the oven, turn after 30, open package, turn, glaze, back in for another 15.
No sweat, as His Royal Highness might say when interviewed.
The hard work has been done so you’re only warming and glazing: and I don’t know about you but those words sound comforting in themselves. That barbecue sauce is a revelation, a multilayered improvement on most around, spicy and sweet and tart and tangy, thick and glossy.
The texture of the meat is impeccable: carve off a rib or pull them all out to leave yourself with a slab of boneless meat, do it your way, but these are the best baby backs I have had outside London.
The second flavour heads in a different direction: a savoury-sweet miso glaze, with an optional spice coating. That mixture takes it in yet another direction, of sesame and chilli, and the rugged citrus buzz of Sichuan pepper. Adding it just before serving avoids burning the spices, and combining it with the sticky glaze makes a proper mess.
Which after all is what you what from ribs. Like most of the things that make life truly worth living, if you don’t end up messy you’re doing it wrong. And covered in sauce. Ribs are, after all, ripe for ribaldry, so I won’t overdo it: but today’s key words will be slathered and dripping.
Sides are spot on, whether it’s potato wedges which crisp up a treat in coconut oil- their suggestion, not one I’d ever have tried, but glad I did- or new potatoes whose nutty flavours only accentuates by a butter made from rib fat. Corn drips with the stuff.
There are some snappy pickles too, but the essential order here is their macaroni cheese. It’s positively sodden with strands and knots of meat, the rib ends mixed through elbow (mezzi gomiti, according to My I Spy Guide) pasta and the cheese sauce amped up with a touch of that spice rub for a lingering, mustard heat.
Portion sizes are generous. But order two, and thank me later.
So what’s the Kapow difference then?
Is it the selection of high quality meat, or its preparation, the diligent trimming so you’re left free to enjoy the good stuff?
Is it the choice of meat itself? The rub? The patience in the cooking process? Is it in that glaze?
All of the above, surely: but the ‘eye’ (above) surely deserves a special mention- that kernel of sweet meat, sitting across the top of the rack, plump and tender, something like those prized chicken ‘oysters’ in the way they deliver a hit of flavour in a small package.
I’ve loved seeing Kapow mature from the germ of an idea to that weekly phone meltdown, and now beyond that to their own online ordering platform- details below.
So what next for Kapow? You can imagine it going in any number of directions; you could adapt Kapow to a mobile ribs roadshow, or a residence at Sticky Fingers, or just stick to home deliveries boosted by their new site. O all three.
It would, surely, work brilliantly as a standalone bricks and mortar place- nothing pretentious or glossy, somewhere pared-back but welcoming and focused on feeding you well. Bare brick, rough wood, neon. A welter of these ribs and these sides, with the potential for tweaks and specials a permanent base gives. Perhaps some great fried chicken, still in short supply round here; interesting beers, or bread with rib meat butter thickly spread, all masterminded an experienced Chef. Don’t forget no one in the city received a higher score for their cooking from the Good Food Guide than John did when he ran Arbennig-you’d have to be a fool to bet against them proving thumpingly successful.
I love what Kapow embodies: in its original form it looked nothing at all like this, but with a bit of inspiration and the usual John and Ceri teamwork it has taken off remarkably well. Kapow would be a welcome addition at any time; as a response to shutdowns and a timely response to a crisis, it means even more.
From today 27.07.20 it should be easier to get your Kapow fix by going exclusively to their brand new site.
All orders will now go through https://kapowribs.co.uk
And at the risk of laboring the point- you really should, if you haven’t managed already.
If you already have, getting a repeat hit should be less fraught now. Win win.
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.