I’ve never been much of a fan of chicken. It’s not that I actively disliked it, it’s just a bit ‘meh’. Doesn’t really have much about it. For example, I felt the same way about chicken as I did about Pilates (what’s the point?) and Tuesdays (ditto). I thought I was the only person in the world who’d never been to Nandos (am I?) and if someone had told me I could never eat chicken again I would have done the world’s biggest shrug and said ‘Whatevs’.
So, prior to visiting Chicken Shop, that was the relationship I had with chicken.
AFTER visiting Chicken Shop. Well. I’m converted. Head over heels in love. Utterly heart thumpingly, knee wobblingly infatuated. That’s right, Readers; I feel the same way about Chicken Shop as some women do about Ryan Gosling. There we are. We all have our weaknesses.
The menu is very simple. You can have chicken, chicken or chicken, quartered, halved or whole. No veggie – or even pesci – options here I’m afraid (sorry Guys, I do know how annoying that is for you and I do plan on making it up to you in the VERY near future). You also have a choice of 4 sides; chips, salad, slaw and corn on the cob. I have, in my time, tried everything – though I accept that’s no great feat. On this occasion we plumped for a whole chicken (ALWAYS have a whole chicken unless you want to look like a novice), chips, coleslaw and avocado salad. Once you’ve ordered your food, if you’re sitting at the counter (my favourite spot) by the open kitchen you’ll see the chicken chef lift a spit of chickens out of the flames and pull yours onto a board. He’ll then put on his chainmail glove, take a monstrously sharp cleaver (it all gets a bit ‘Game of Thrones’ at this point) and butcher your chicken in a few, deft chops. And when it comes… OH MY GOD. It’s chicken Jim, but not as you know it. Juicy meat, encased in gorgeously crispy, spicy, tasty skin, charred by the fire. No idea what it’s marinated in, and frankly I don’t care if it’s the tears of orphaned kittens (joke! But yunno, it probably isn’t) – this is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most delicious chicken I have ever tasted.
The sides are pretty good too (they have to be really, to live up to the bird). Salad is salad is salad but I heart avocado so this was always going to be a winner. The coleslaw I could bathe in; just the right balance of creamy and fresh, with plenty of crunchy red cabbage and without the harshness of too much raw onion. The chips are crinkle cut (who DOESN’T love a crinkle cut chip?! Genius), crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. We didn’t have corn this time but this is also delicious; charred and sweet and swimming in garlic butter.
There are several Chicken Shops in this fair city (website here). My nearest is the one in Kentish Town; walk up Highgate Road away from the station and just before Pizza East on the left is a blue door – if you’re not on the lookout for it you WILL miss it. The restaurant itself is in the basement below. You can’t book, but I’ve never waited more than half an hour even when I’ve been on a Thursday evening (NB: if you’re going to the new one in Holborn, this will almost certainly not be true) so you’ll probably be OK. They also do that winning thing whereby you can leave your name and number and they’ll text you when a table is ready – bonus. Get yourself to the Vine opposite and have a drink while you’re waiting.
In summary, this place is the bee’s knees. You should definitely go. Oh – and it’s super-reasonable as well! All that plus booze came to less than £45.
Oh, but the lighting is crap for taking photos. Sorry. You’ll just have to take my word for it that the food looks as good as it tastes. Or you could follow them on twitter (@ChickenShop) where they have loads of awesome photos and also use the hashtag #CluckYeah A LOT which is almost a reason to follow them by itself.