I suppose if you were going to open a restaurant that served just one thing, then you’d research it inside out; see what the competition was serving and then come up with your own formula. So it was, I’m sure, when the first Chicken Shop was conceived. ‘How can a place survive on just Chicken?’ we asked before it opened. Well, the long queues ever since the day it started trading are a testament to the fact that whatever they marinade the chicken in, and however they cook it, is just what the public likes and wants.
So, Bird opened recently, practically where Dalston Road becomes Shoreditch High Street. Again they serve just one thing: Chicken, but this time fried. Normally, you can't go wrong: you coat the chicken in some sort of flavoured flour and deep fry it. At Bird, they give you the choice of white meat, dark meat or mixed and they offer you a range of glazes or dipping sauces. So far, so good.
Maybe we should have gone for a glaze, because the plain old Fried Chicken (2 pieces, 4 or the whole bird) tastes like they dip it in some kind of batter before frying. The trouble is, this makes the chicken brittle. It’s like it has some tough coating around it, which I found strangely unpleasant. It takes some biting into and I thought it made the chicken inside rather dry, too. The chicken sandwich that passed by the table looked better, but if the chicken was cooked in the same way, I don’t know how you’d have got your teeth into that. The chips were great: in fact we ordered seconds, but that was to make us feel better about the whole meal. Neither of the sides impressed: the Little Green Salad was virtually devoid of any dressing and the Korean Cucumber Salad was just sliced Cucumber with some Sesame Seeds thrown over the top and no trace of the Rice Vinegar dressing that should have made the flavours stand out. They do serve freshly-made Donuts for dessert, but we never got that far.
Of course, it’s perhaps a bit unfair to compare this place with the Chicken Shop, which is located in the middle of nowhere and serves Rotisserie as opposed to Fried Chicken, but price-wise, look at the difference: Bird – Whole Chicken £24; Chicken Shop – £15. So, our meal for two of Chicken Pieces, Fries, two sides and two Cokes came to just over £50. I think that’s a lot for what is essentially Fast Food.
I wish I could be more supportive of a place that’s only been open a few weeks because, as you might guess, I do love my Chicken.