Love at First Sight: The Hoxton

White beach chairs, colorful, upholstered, overstuffed couches, and vintage Hermes photographs lining the walls.  Exactly what you’d expect when you think of Brickell bars.  Oh no, wait, I’m sorry. Pints of Guinness, dark, wooden rooms and scantily-clad girls parading through said rooms, carrying the aforementioned draft beer to high top tables. Don’t forget about the insanely loud Irish music. That’s the Brickell we know and love.

Enter: The Hoxton.  A beautiful, immaculately decorated establishment that rescued the corner spot on SW 1st Ave from the dreary fate of Irish pub-ness.  The first clue that The Hoxton is doing something totally out of Brickell character is the soft, good music being played on the front porch, which is filled with big tables perfect for large groups of happy hour-goers.  The male servers, dressed in matching, hipster tees, looked almost as presh as the ladies rocking short, preppy outfits. Sorry, Lucky Clover sluts, TTYN.  Inside, white, leather, high-back chairs lined the bar, and pale wooden tables topped with flickering candles set the Hamptons-esque vibe.  A curtain-enclosed lounge area, with plush couches and wicker tables, is the perfect spot to grab a drink while waiting for your late friend running on Miami time.  And, if they’re really late, just grab one of the Danielle Steele novels on the bookshelves.  But don’t tell them that I told you to.

{Photo credit: Ivan Nava, brpr Group}

My favorite area was the upstairs bar.  Dimly lit and filled with even more comfy couches (really though, it’s like a freaking El Dorado with the mass amount of furniture), the second floor screams date-night spot. It’s super isolated and practically invisible from the ground floor, yet it offers a cool view of the entire restaurant. I can also picture it as a great private party area.

{Photo credit: The Hoxton}

The cocktail menu was pretty impressive and thoughtful.  One friend ordered the Honey Ryder (Bulleit bourbon, honey, fresh lemon, blackberries, & rosemary) and the girls had The Pimlico (tequila, agave, fresh lime, watermelon puree, cilantro).  Initially, we gave our male friend a hard time for ordering such a pretty, pink, blackberry-topped drink.  Until we tasted it.  The Hoxton bartenders are not stingy with liquor, which, at $12/drink, is necessary.   The rosemary rounded off the cocktail with a savory, woodsy flavor and the honey perfectly complemented the bourbon. I’m not a bourbon lover but I’d definitely order this.  The Pimlico is my idea of a perfect drink and I could have easily and single-handledly downed a pitcher of this delicious bad boy (note to the Hoxton: consider selling pitchers). Tequila is shaken with a barely there, not-cloyingly-sweet watermelon puree and slapped cilantro (apparently it’s a bartending technique, and after two rounds, we were all excited about the allegedly slapped cilantro).  The concoction is poured over the pebbliest, crunchiest crushed iced that almost turns the drink into a liquored-up slushy.  “Would I like another?”, the adorable server asked. Don’t mind if I do.

Service is also worth briefly mentioning.  Everyone, from the hostess, waitress, and food runners, was super knowledgeable about the cocktails, food, and restaurant itself, including the history of the Hoxton name (que’ impressive). They encouraged honest feedback and checked on our table frequently. Hopefully the good restaurant service doesn’t get lost in the inevitable bar scene.

The Hoxton’s menu boasts only seafood options (and a lone meatball grinder and quiche).  I’ll admit, I was hesitant to order seafood from a slow resto, purely on freshness principle.  I must, however, admit defeat.  The Hoxton is serving up quite possibly some of the best fish & chips ($14) I’ve ever had.  And I just got back from London.  The fish was not fishy-tasting at all, and the batter was golden, light, and didn’t fall off.  Served with two sauces (a mixture of cocktail sauce and ketchup and a herb tartar sauce), a bottle of malt vinegar would be my only addition to this dish.  Good fries are hard to find and these, my friends, were hot, crispy, and perfectly salted.  Few things excite me more than good food and, since this place is downstairs from my apartment, I may be placing pick-up orders for fish & chips (and lobster rolls) dinners at home on the reg.

Atlantic Lobster Roll & House Fries

The fries made a second appearance in our duck poutine ($13), topped with duck confit gravy and Vermont smoked cheddar.  I read some Yelp reviews criticizing this “okay” poutine for its lack of cheese curds.  Relax, Yelpers.  While I applaud your poutine knowledge, this dish is clearly The Hoxton’s spin on the Quebec classic and, might I add, a great one.  The duck confit gravy was like a tasty, slow-cooked duck sugo blanket, covering the cheddar which, in my opinion, was seriously lacking.  The topping could have been more evenly distributed amongst the fries (which, to my surprise, stayed crispy).  Some fries were totally naked, while others had all the ducky, cheesy love.  Overall, this poutine was a winner.  It’s one of the many shareable dishes on the menu, along with a New England clam bake ($45), peel & eat shrimp ($18/half pound), mussels ($15), and chocolate chip cookies ($3). But really, eff you if you try to touch my poutine.

Swan’s Island Mussels {nueske bacon, white whine, butter, grilled garlic bread}

Warm Blueberry Cobbler & Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thank you, Hoxton folk, for giving us Brickellites the gift that keeps on giving: a non-Irish bar with really good food.  Eventually, I hope, they’ll branch out into what I think could be a killer brunch menu {read: bloody mary bar}.  Once they establish their happy hour list, which I optimistically anticipate will include drink specials and smaller bites, like crab cakes, I can envision spending many a’night at this spot.  Welcome to the neighborhood, my new friend.

The Hoxton - An Urban Beach House on Urbanspoon

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