For the past few years, a building on Thurland Street has been left empty, waiting around for someone to slip inside its shoes and have a little jig. I can't recall the amount of times I’ve looked up at the thick, stone walls and declared “Someone should really do summat with that place.”
Well, dear reader, the time has finally come. The building has had a few different faces in the past – from the cheap and tuneful watering hole of BRB Stone Bar, to the gobby guffaw that was Jongleur's Comedy Club – and now it's been taken on by Mal Evans and Martin Greenhow, who've created an indulgence spot to contend with the best of 'em.
The first Mojo was opened up in Leeds, back in 1996, and after going on to open up two more in Manchester and Liverpool, they've set up shop in humble Hoodtown. Open from 11.30am to 3am every day of the week, this place’ll be one for the people in the city who like to party, and don't do things by halves.
The LeftLion crew got down to check out the new gaff for a feast to end 'em all. First up, it was signature chicken wings for the masses. Mojo Louisianna No. 2 and PBJ, to be precise. The Louisiannas came glazed with agave-syrup- and lime-juice-laced hot sauce. Belting. And before you declare “PBJ, what the bob?”, hear me out; those boggers were sweet and crispy like you wouldn’t believe. As one of our lovely hosts Emily declared: “It’s just one of those things that shouldn’t work, but it just does.” Elvis, eat yer bleddy heart out.
The wings were tankin’, and the meat was so juicy, it was hard to leave the crackers alone, but we had a quarry-load of heathenous gear to contend with. My personal favourite of the dishes was the fried chicken and waffles, slathered with crispy bacon bits and spiced butter, all with a jug of warm maple syrup. Absolutely ridiculous.
Now then, burgers. The Hangover absolutely smashed it with its bacon patty, hash brown and grilled cheese, all topped with a runny-yolk fried egg, and “breakfast” sauce. There’s summat to be said for the bun game in this gaff; soft brioche bread that’s not too sweet, and works just as well on The Veggie as owt else. In fact, The Veggie burger was spot on. Even as a meat-eating savage, I’d go back just for that: spicy beanburger, jalapenos, guacamole, barbecue sauce, and pico de gallo that gave the whole thing a beautiful kick. Probably the best veggie burger I’ve ever had. There, I said it. And served with lime and tequila sour cream? Goer.
Another highlight of the whole shebang were the ribs. Phat, chunky, juicy, falling off the bone. Yes please. Also, the corn puppies with chipotle mayo were shamelessly sinful but, sometimes, you just have to give in to the deep fry. Speaking of fries, we had garlic butter ones. Garlic. Butter. Fries. Worth the breath stink about ten times over, there were several points and gasps at them throughout the munch-off.
It would’ve been rude to not finish the meal with a dose of liquor. Espresso Martinis are my weakness, and Mojo have got them stacked, but with a little twist: rum. All the rum. I’ll take six, please. We also tried the Hurricane cocktail: five-year-old El Dorado rum, Diplomatico Mantuano, passionfruit and grenadine, as well as lime and orange juices, served with fire. Excellent behaviour.
The cocktail menu is summat to be explored, for sure. And with excellent tunes playing throughout a dimly-lit bar with framed pictures of musical legends adorning the walls, I can see plenty of Nottingham heads settling in for an evening session. Behind the bar, they’ve got screens displaying the current tune being played, and table dancing is encouraged. There’s just summat dead relaxed about the place; you can tell it’s had some love put into it over the years, and it’s pretty cool that we’ve been picked as the next city to be gifted with the decadence.
A great place to get your drink and dance on, but also to pop in for a cheeky bit of extravagance for lunch. And if it takes more than twenty minutes for your food to come out – between 11.30am and 2.30pm – you get the bogger for free. What’s not to like?
Mojo, 10 Thurland Street, Nottingham, NG1 3DR. 0845 611 8643