Covent Garden Piazza? AVOID! AVOID! Too many resting actors playing living statues, dead-eyed tourists in sawn-off shorts and Union flag velvet jester hats from its shite souvenir shacks. No tables at Balthazar? Whatever! And as for my initial samplings at Shake Shack and Five Guys, I'm burgered if I'll by queuing up any time...ever. For a fiver more, I'd rather shag Hawksmoor Seven Dials' buns (http://tinyurl.com/p6jypt7). Away from the fray, Joe's - a dive bar that should not be confused with the Joe Allen, to which I am forever drawn for nostalgic reasons (I held my 21st birthday B-List party there) - is worth a butcher's at the thinly disguised reboot of what was formerly Navajo Joe's on rapidly improving King Street. Set to a pre-Motown r’n’b soundtrack, lit brothel-red, this Tabasco-tone joint comes on like a downbeat off-Route 66 dive circa early Mad Men. Rocking rum and bourbon rinses spell danger for dipso Don Drapers de nos jours. Try red or dead or 1 night in jail, the sort of butch bastards I imagine Johnny Cash downing in one before knocking ten bells out of the man that called him "Sue." (re-live that pearl at http://tinyurl.com/5crveq ) With an impressive range of range over 100 suave agaves to choose from, tequila cocktails are worth making out with. I'm halfway through smokin’ sazerac-alike, Mexican put-down, shooting the breeze with the bar's mile-a-minute Scouse-mouth manager, when tonight's sidekick, Mr. Attention-Span-of-a-Gnat, demands that I drink up and we take the evening on to Rules. Now if ever there is a reason to hit Covent G, Rules is it (earlier love letter here: http://tinyurl.com/p6d6fql ) but as with other bars Joe's reminds me of - Slim Jim's and Aces and Eights for example - I'd have been perfectly happy to linger here. Looks like I'll have to negotiate the Garden's freaky fruits again 'ere long.
34 King Street WC2E 8JD 7240 4008 www.joessouthernkitchen.co.uk