LD’s Kitchen brings some serious soul food to a renowned Bristol venue
Even though I’ve never set foot on Southern soil, American-style BBQ and soul food is a huge influence in the way we cook in our house. My mac & cheese has to have a hot sauce-drenched crouton kick; my home-made baked beans always come with a punch of smokiness; and I use any occasion as an excuse to make the most calorific slaw.
Soul food is all about showing your love on your plate, and I like to feed my nearest and dearest. A lot.
Lianna Davies likes to feed people, too. She’s been sustaining the people of Bristol with her American-influenced soul food since March 2020 (shudder), when the pandemic brought her then touring band, Turbowolf, to an abrupt stop.
She decided to use her background in cooking to make the jump from bassist to chef, and LD’s Kitchen exploded onto an already-thriving food scene.
You’d think that starting up a business during a time of global uncertainty might be a tough task, but then you’d be underestimating Lianna. With a skeleton crew of other musicians, she’s turned her passion for Southern-style home cooking into a successful plant-based enterprise with good, hearty food at its core.
A friend and I went along to the Press Evening for the launch of her new and improved menu, and I made sure to wear my stretchy pants. This isn’t my first rodeo; I knew what to expect.
Once seated in the cavernous gig space at the back of The Golden Lion, we were told we’d be sampling a little bit of everything from the menu. The first few plates arrived, and then kept on coming. We actually had to relocate to a bigger table so we could accommodate it all.
LD’s signature dish is the Southern-fried ‘mocken’ wings, which are crispy hunks of tofu/seitan mix in an incredible faux-chicken skin. My other half isn’t plant-based, but he’s been maniacally obsessed with how something so chicken-y can’t actually be chicken.
There’s a choice of flavours, too – Southern Fried, Buffalo Hot, LD’s Famous BBQ and Maple Sweet Mustard. All of these were immense, but for me, the Maple Sweet Mustard takes the prize. It’s spicy in a warming way, and sweet without being cloying, which makes for very moreish wings. They are pretty filling, though so choose wisely.
“LD’s signature dish is the Southern-fried ‘mocken’ wings, which are crispy hunks of tofu/seitan mix in an incredible faux-chicken skin.”
Alongside the amazing wings, you can order BBQ Ribz, BBQ Pork Belly With Smokey Vegan Crackling, Smoked or Truffled Mac ‘n’ Cheeze, and Popcorn Tofu.
I managed to wrestle some of the Ribz from my friend, who was lost in their glazed greatness. But, to be fair, I ate about a pound of LD’s Family BBQ Beans. I eat a lot of beans, and these are worth the trip up Gloucester Road.
As well as the main event, we were treated to an abundance of wholesome sides. LD’s Southwest Is Best Gravy Pot, Tater Tots with Buttery Buffalo Ranch, Creamy Potato Salad, Dill Slaw – we had the lot. And when we couldn’t eat any more, we were given takeaway boxes, so we could enjoy the leftovers at home.
This is the kind of hospitality I imagine you’d get in the South – a belly full of delicious food that’ll keep you nourished and happy, and then a little something to take away with you. I’ve ordered food twice more since my last visit, because sometimes only a meal cooked with heart will do.