Big Easy, Chelsea
A lot of West Londoners have a complicated relationship with Big Easy. Like fickle lovers we flocked to it during our early years for birthdays, family feedings and fake ID Saturdays, only to desert it when we came of age and Americana had started to lose its sheen. So we grew up, drank up, earned a bit more cash and checked out the new joints in Soho, the dive bars in Shoreditch, and dated accordingly. However, cyclical as life is, once the new glean of young professionalism wears off, nostalgia and the ironic enjoyment of places creep into our twenties and thirties. We now look to Big Easy – an American BBQ joint and crabshack on the Kings Road – as a place where frozen margaritas can be downed and food challenges undertaken, all the while scoffing to each other knowingly about the crassness of American culture. It’s a total joke, we exclaim, as we gesture to the peppy waiter for another meat refill and have the time of our goddamn lives. Now bear with me here, this may not seem the place to date. You’re wrong. Many the romantic evening has been passed here, poking fun, drinking lots, reeling from the steal of the unlimited fajita deal, tapping away to country music and really letting go. For those who bang on about wanting someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously, this is the place to test them.
As it lies on the Kings Road, ordering à la carte is not exactly as cheap as you would expect. The vital points here are, one, the food is good quality and on the right side of the greasy-good/ greasy-gross divide. Two, every day is deal day. And boy, do they mean it. Monday is the Big Pig Gig, all you can eat BBQ plus a beer for £14.95. Tuesday, all you can eat shrimp with sides and a frozen margarita for £14.95. And Wednesday, all you can eat fajitas with all the fillings and a frozen margarita for, you guessed it, £14.95. Bowl me over, feed me till I’m sick and call me Pepper Joe, this is cause for excitement. Plus there’s nothing like a fun challenge on a date. Did I mention the Lobster Festival? Oh man.
The Kings Road is a long road but it is peppered with eye-candy, both breathing and inanimate. Meet at Sloane Square station in the early evening and meander down the street, window shopping, people watching, chit chatting and holding hands. This is a date for once the 3-date barrier has been triumphantly smashed through and you are now consenting lovers navigating your way from fling to thing. You’ve done the cocktail bar, pub and fancy restaurant and now want to have a bit of fun. On your way to the restaurant, bring your date up to speed on the special that night and make it clear that the rest of the menu is void, you’re eating for sport. Arrive, beam at the hostess, tell them you’re ready to rumble (or not) and order a round of frozen margaritas. To show your date you’re not so tight as to stick pedantically to the meal deal, go for a pitcher instead of the free round. This sets the right tone, shifting the emphasis on mass eating back to drinking. Once the fajitas arrive, take your time, discuss and try out combos, perhaps even fling a pepper their way. Have a lot of fun and forget about finishing anything. The crucial point here is that the food challenge part of this was all for show, just have a bit to eat, a lot to drink and shimmy away to the crappy music. Leave within 90 minutes and whisk them down the road to the Cadogan pub for a settling whiskey and some teenage snogging on the squidgy sofas.
Supersize dating is not for everybody. This is for the silly, the hungry and the Yank lovin’.
4. Providing you don’t overdo it this place puts you at ease and sets things up for a fun and tactile night, with a frat party ending.