BB KINGS – TIMES SQUARE
NOTE: Pictures are sample sizes, does not reflect true size of portions
Average price pp: $30 – $50
If you’ve been to Times Square before, you have probably seen or walked past BB King’s
Bar and Grill. Being opposite big attractions such as Madame Tussauds and Ripley’s museum,
it’s a big attraction in itself and many visit to dine, see live music, celebrity performances
and shows. It’s roughly a four minute walking distance from Times Square-42 street subway
station, which made it easy to find. My purpose on visiting was to eat and meet Chef W. Simpson,
the head executive chef. Simpson is a Jamaican national who has been residing in New York
for 15 years and working at BB King’s for 8. I have been following Simpson’s work on social media for
some time now and it does nothing but create this hunger within me, even if I’ve looked at it after I have
just eaten. He even states in his captions “do not swipe left” to look at the other dishes as he knows
the power of his cooking and the drooling it will make you do. Once you see the masterpieces
that he creates, you might just catch a plane to New York like I did.
When I was greeted by Simpson he was nothing short of what I expected: humble and
amicable you could tell that he is really passionate about what he does. I was given a tour of the
whole restaurant including the kitchens where everything is freshly prepared. Also, the main
stage where stars such as Rihanna have performed. The Lucille section, where I sat near, is
named after BB Kings’ guitar. It seemed like more than just a section of the restaurant. It was
something very special to them.
The darkness of the restaurant created a very intimate feeling. I do feel though, that
it was a bit too dark, had the lights been a bit brighter it would have been more
I had two servers: a man and a woman, the woman provided me with a great service and
the man who I felt lacked a bit of patience, came across as quite rude. The popcorn
shrimp ($13) and the sweet and spicy catfish bites ($11) were similar in that they were both
small pieces of seafood that had been fried in batter. The batter was a bit bland for my linking.
The best thing about the shrimp was the juice that emerged once I had stuck my teeth in,
there’s nothing like shrimp cooked succulently. The catfish had a drier texture
but was still nice.
When dining out in the States you realise how much of a big deal chicken and waffle is:
I saw it many times including at BB Kings. This mini fried chicken breast and waffle ($11) looked
so cute that it did the opposite of what it was supposed to; instead of making you want to eat it,
you didn’t want to because of how adorable it looked. The waffle could have been toasted
a bit more as the bottom was soft. Additionally, the chicken was just ok as it didn’t
have much flavour.
But, the jerk wings ($13) were also a part of the platter. When I replaced the original chicken breast
with these, and had it with the waffle, it completely upgraded the meal. I mean
the power of jerk it just improves everything. Nothing can beat that smoky, pimento,
woody flavour, when it’s done properly that is. The wings were also tender and not dry;
just how I like them.
The beef brisket sliders ($10) reminded me of pulled pork: they had that dry, shredded texture.
These were great from the bun to the meat to the salad inside. The barbecue sauce added a
sweet, piquant moisture to the brisket.
After this, I had the barbecue pork ribs ($28). It was great how the meat came off the bone in firm
but soft flakes. The sauce was sweet, savoury and tangy. I thoroughly enjoyed these.
In addition, I felt that the proportion of meat to bone was perfect.
Now onto a platter of mains and sides. Collard greens, a member of the cabbage family,
were soft, wet and had a slight caramelised flavour. They were delicious and there are many
dishes that I would put collard greens with.
So, this was my second time having the popular Southern dish of shrimp and grits.
Despite still being new to it, this plate showed me the diverse ways in which grits can be cooked.
This shrimp came smothered in a barbecue sauce that I found to be a bit heavy and
the grits were too salty. I don’t really eat a lot of salt so I am extra sensitive to it’s taste.
The macaroni cheese ($8) was decent and simple. Could have been more gooey but it was
great that it was easy to scrape out of the bowl.
The last food tasted was jerk chicken ($28). You see jerk chicken is Chef W. Simpson’s favourite thing
to eat, which is evident, as I believe this was the best dish. Some may not be aware that when
cooking Caribbean food, one of the main ingredients is love along with passion. So if this is absent
it tends to show in the food. The skin had an amazing crispy and soft texture. And I love that the
flavours could be tasted all throughout.
- Food presentation
- Food quality
- Service & Organisation
Overall, I had a good experience at BB King’s. Although I am in no rush to go back, I wouldn’t say that I will never visit there again. I did feel that the menu was quite generic, nothing really stood out to me and because of this some of the food tasted quite basic. Generally service was ok. I would however, still go to an event where chef Simpson is cooking at, as I didn’t feel like I sampled the full extent of his culinary skills.
Beef brisket sliders