The Olivier and Tony® Award-winning Memphis The Musical has become the West End’s hottest new destination, with multi-award-winning recording artist Beverley Knight winning rave reviews for her performance as Felicia Farrell, and the incredible X Factor winner Matt Cardle set to take over as Huey Calhoun from July. Inspired by true events from the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, this original story follows the fame and forbidden love of a radio DJ who wants to change the world and a club singer who is ready for her big break.
Beale Street may be the beating heart of Memphis, but you can still find that Southern spirit here in the UK – from tasty restaurants serving finger-lickin' barbecue, to live music that will make your hips move, here’s our guide to where Memphis Lives In London!
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Blues Kitchen: This restaurant provides the full Southern American experience with its stylized comfort food and live blues musical guests. This kitchen knows how to do brunch the American way, with items like big fluffy pancakes and homefries. While lunch and dinner items are just as savoury, featuring fried buttermilk chicken, catfish jambalaya, chilli and cornbread. To gain the full experience of what Blues Kitchen has to offer, book a table from 7p.m. onwards and your meal will be joined with the live music showcasing that evening. The music is all in the style of American jazz/blues, but can range from Broadway numbers, to live DJs, to harmonica players – where you can even learn some tunes yourself. For the patrons old enough to drink, you can enjoy the evening from the bar, sipping on Kentucky bourbon or Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whisky cocktails.
Shoreditch and Camden Locations
Ronnie Scott’s: The infamous British saxophonist Ronnie Scott opened his restaurant/bar in 1959 to deliver the world of American jazz to London. This popular venue hosts the best live jazz music within the heart of London and can be accompanied by Southern-style menu items. Daily shows commence at 6p.m. with a second performer on in the late evening, and the shows are almost always sold out in advance. Some of the biggest names in jazz have played this venue: Johnny Griffin, Lee Konitz, Sonny Stitt, and recognized names continue to play. Ronnie Scott’s kitchen boasts an English twist on Southern classics, like grilled garlic chicken breast, seafood risotto and salmon fish pie. It maintains a child-friendly atmosphere, encouraging the true values of the South: family, fun and fiery jazz. The kitchen is open daily for dinner and Sunday for lunch. A full bar can also be found at this venue.
47 Frith Street, Soho, London W1D 4HT
Jackson + Rye: Jackson + Rye contains a classic American diner quality to their décor and flavourful menu items. There is something exquisitely understated but exceptionally tasty to their take on Southern diner classics. Their finest breakfast items include creamed grits, milk and cookies, country style potatoes and salt beef hash. In true Southern American fashion, their weekend brunch menu is open until 4:30p.m. and is made up of items like jalapeno cornbread, crab cakes, rib eye steak and buttermilk pancakes. Lunch and dinner include items such as grilled shrimp and grits, sirloin steak and cod fillet. Smartly, a separate menu designed for west end theatregoers is available upon request (Wardour Street). For the more leisurely and 18+ crowd, a full bar can be visited.
Richmond, Chiswick High Road and Wardour Street Locations
Red Dog Saloon: This restaurant’s menu is complete with mouth-watering items that will transport you right into the heart of the Deep South. Careful attention to detail, from the items on the menu to the way the food is prepared in the kitchen, to the way it is served to patrons, has apparent Southern touches. Red Dog Saloon is equipped with its very own American imported oven smokers. Notable menu items include smoked BBQ chicken wings, fried chicken combo with two sides, brisket and ribs. If you are feeling courageous, you can participate in the ‘Hot Wings Challenge’ or ‘The Devastation Challenge’, by asking your server for the details. A full bar is available, but the real treat are the dessert-liquor milkshakes, with non-alcoholic shakes available as well.
Hoxton Square and Clapham North Locations
The Lockhart: Waltz inside this two-level restaurant and find authentic décor and antique furnishings, such as old railway benches. Curating for this restaurant is Brad McDonald, the Mississippi born creator of this Southern style restaurant. Of course, you can also find his Southern influences in menu items like catfish gumbo, fried chicken and coleslaw, collard greens and buttermilk biscuits and sausage (brunch item). The Lockhart has a full bar with creative Southern inspired cocktails like the classic Mint Julep and Louisiana Jam. Brad McDonald also loves pairing complimentary wines with his decadent menu items and designs innovative pairing events, which you can book in advance.
22-24 Seymour Place, London W1H 7NL
Brooklyn Bowl: Don’t be fooled by the name of this venue, which is jam packed with Southern American inspiration. Skip on over and delve into a bowling game while enjoying some live music. The selection is mainly rock ‘n roll rather than jazz, but go to the Brooklyn Bowl’s website to check show details and possible entrances fees. A perk of this venue’s location, nestled within the O2 Arena, is that it has been known to live stream video from the main stage. Once you have worked up your appetite, discover menu items like Cajun prawns, sloppy joe’s and biscuits and gravy, from both the bowling lanes or the restaurant floor. Brooklyn Bowl is also equipped with three full bars. Fun for friends or family, or even parties if you would like to hire the venue.
The O2, Peninsula Square, London SE10 0DX
Ain’t Nothin’ But… : If the Georgia White inspired name for the venue did not give it away, Ain’t Nothin’ But… attracts a blues-loving crowd. Artists perform daily and every first Sunday of the month this lively blues music accompanies a burlesque show for those who are feeling a bit more adventurous. Find your way over to the cabin-like bar-top and order from a full drinks menu. If you do not fancy standing at the bar, head to the back and check out the saloon-style lounge area on the outskirts of the stage. You can find walls lined with caricature drawings of famous blues artist throughout time. This location has something young and hip about it, despite blues music being an old Southern American tradition.
20 Kingly Street, London W1B 5PZ
Boisdale: This sophisticated venue overlooking the Thames and London skyline includes a restaurant, whisky bar, cigar terrace and stage. The food menu is inspired by traditional Scottish cuisine. For beginners or lovers of whisky, visit the bar for tasting flights or feel welcome to order by-the-glass. Boisdale hosts scrumptious whisky cocktail master classes as well. The real appeal of Boisdale, however, is their careful selection of jazz and soul musicians; visit the website for further details.
Cabot Place, Canary Wharf, London E14 4QT
Blue’s Smokehouse: Southern breed Carlos Maidana and business partners David Andrews and Joy Roberts wound up meeting Jackie Weight, the only Brit to boast the triumph of winning the Jack Daniel’s World Championship International Barbeque. The four of them collaborated, and the finished product was Blue’s Smokehouse. Thanks to the restaurant’s smoke ovens and long cooking processes, and Jackie’s very own secret marinade/ rub recipes, the food on offer truly deserves the quip ‘melt in your mouth’. Delectable menu items include, but are not limited to, pulled pork, barbeque chicken and bourbon glazed steak. A wing challenge is also on the menu, and your server can provide further details for those courageous enough.
11 London Road, Twickenham TW1 3SX
Joe’s Southern Kitchen & Bar: Providing Deep Southern style cooking and warm Southern hospitality is of the utmost importance to Joe’s Southern Kitchen & Bar. Also in true American taste, this restaurant offers a happy hour drinks menu all day Sunday and Monday-Friday 4- 6:30p.m. This is a two level restaurant with a bar that covers the length of the lower level’s wall. If you are eating at the restaurant, order the ‘Beer Can’ chicken and experience your server carve your meat before your own eyes. Other menu items include beef short rib, blackened catfish and New Orleans gumbo. While this venue does not offer live music, they are well known for their curated Southern American soundtracks.
Covent Garden and Kentish Town Locations
Memphis is running at Shaftesbury Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8DP. For tickets and information visit memphisthemusical.com