Review – Orange Buffalo at The Joker
We all know that London Road has seen something of a food revival recently – with some even likening the half-mile stretch as “the new Shoreditch”. Personally, I wouldn’t go that far, but that doesn’t mean to say London Road isn’t home to some London-esque food.
A recent opening is The Joker, a pub opposite Duke of York’s Picturehouse and formerly known for many years as Circus Circus. The latter served mediocre Thai food and didn’t exactly fit in with the “new” London Road vision. The Joker however, fits in perfectly.
The pub is dark and the bar-staff look like they couldn’t give a monkey’s. But this is cool at the moment. The booze is reasonably-priced, although sadly lacking any big craft or independent names. The Joker plays good music; think independent bands, punk, shoe-gaze, and 1980s synth/electro. A perfect mid-week hangout spot.
It’s clear that The Joker wants to branch out into emerging trends and hence the reason for choosing chicken wings as the fuel to accompany alcohol. And not just any run-of-the-mill wings, award-winning wings from Orange Buffalo.
Orange Buffalo are a London business that specialise in bringing big flavour. So much flavour, in fact, that they were crowned winners of the 2014 London Wing Fest.
Running the kitchen at The Joker is Orange Buffalo’s first venture outside of the big smoke and they have wisely chosen Tom, from local street food company Wing Shack, to oversee the day-to-day business.
Firstly, the homemade sauces are all brilliant. Ranging from a mild, sweet and sticky BBQ, to the infamous “Viper”, Orange Buffalo’s hottest sauce, admittedly none of which I tried for fear of ruining my tastebuds permanently. But rest assured, it is a scorcher.
My personal favourite was the Woof Woof, made from Scotch bonnet, Dutch and naga chillies. It was smooth, a little bit fruity, and just the right amount of heat: not too intense and not too mild. Paired with a tangy blue cheese dip and traditional celery sticks, the Woof Woof I would recommend to any wing enthusiast. The Vincent is also worth trying for its intense mango flavour.
The wings themselves, served in shack-style baskets, were slightly drier than some I’ve had before, possibly due to being double fried. But the skin was crispy even while drenched in warm, hot sauce.
Tearing fleshy, free-range chicken off a bone has an almost caveman feeling to it, something I enjoyed while slathering my face in spicy, messy sauce. Dirty I know, but these are buffalo wings – the ultimate messy street food. Reasonably-priced, too: eight wings and two sauces cost a mere £7.
If you’re in the mood for filling up, sides of curly fries or hand-cut chips are £3. Orange Buffalo also serve NYC-style salt-beef deli sandwiches and an epic-sounding vegetarian burger with beetroot, chestnut mushrooms, and tofu.
Overall, it was the sauce that really made these birds fly. Washed down with a pint of something cold and hoppy, I would have no trouble returning to Orange Buffalo. They clearly didn’t win best in London for nothing.
Orange Buffalo at The Joker, 2 Preston Road, Brighton, BN1 4QF
Originally printed in the Brighton & Hove Independent Friday 13th February 2015