Good news for the Rose & Crown, which has finally bagged its own semi-permanent kitchen residency – well, for the next three months anyway. Smoking Buns – a hot ticket on the streetfood circuit – launches tomorrow just in time for the pub’s first anniversary all-day party this weekend. Wahey!
So what are the ‘Buns all about? Basically, well-sourced, provenance-aware, kookily-named sandwiches (priced £7 upwards): think burgers, posh dogs (called things like the Frank Butcher and Dogs Dinner), buttermilk fried chicken, squid and chorizo. To top it all off, there’s a signature mouthwatering KFL (Kentucky Fried Lobster) at £12 – buttermilk fried lobster tail with paprika mayo and iceberg lettuce on brioche. OMG. Sides come in a variety of skinny fries, chipotle slaw and fried pickles.
And if you’ve drunk at the Camden Brewery bar, or hit a festie or streetfood market this summer, the chances are you’ll have tried Smoking Buns already. Most recently they were at Alma Street Fair with their Squid & Pig stall (they are, it seems, men of many guises). We didn’t sample it this time – too many other foodie distractions – but last year we enjoyed their calamari.
You’ll also be pleased to hear it’s a very Kentish Town thing. Founder Greg Tuvey moved here a couple of years ago from Bristol, where he had worked as a chef and restaurant manager.
“It was purely by chance we picked NW5,” he says. “My girlfriend and I had been living further north and felt very cut off from London life. We decided to pick random places on the map and go for a walk in the area, then book up flats to view if we liked the location. She went to see one on Willes Road, sent me along the same day to view it – and that was that.”
After spending two years running a cookery school Greg finally took the plunge to branch out on his own and started Chef Events, which roams the country doing pop-ups and various festivals. And so Smoking Buns was born.But what does he think of Kentish Town’s other independent food businesses? “The Grafton quickly became our favourite local, ” he says. “As did the Fields Beneath, a home from home. I think Harry’s really upped his game recently, and I try and cross over the road before I get to E.Mono – or inevitably I end up eating a kebab. Oh, and I’m always popping into Earth for supplies of bread flour: they’re well stocked on Shipton Mill, which is my go-to favourite.”
Well, he passed that test, anyway. His big plan for Smoking Buns in the long term is naturally a location to call his very own. “We’ve looked at a few options, but with the big boys moving in, space is snapped up fast and tough to get hold of,” he says. “However there is one derelict site we want to develop, but it’s currently not up for lease.”
Oh well. For now, however, we advise you make haste to Torriano Avenue to get your paws on a lobster roll or two this weekend. And lest we forget, wash it down with lashings of well-selected beer – to celebrate that sweet first birthday.