I love fried chicken. Who doesn’t? The floured, crispy, crunchy, salty, deep fried skin covering the oh so juicy finger licking chicken. Yeah, we know it is bad but we all know it tastes so darn good. So you can only imagine my delight when my brother-in-law sent me the link to Bird and I read the write up in The Evening Standard. I even sent the link onto my work colleagues since we were obsessing over where we would get our next fried chicken fix from.
Earlier on in the week we had been to Red Market and had THE BEST buttermilk fried chicken burgers from Butchies – they are THE BOMB! Everyone needs to try them. Look at the delight on all our faces after consuming the wonderful babies! Halfway through eating our burgers we all contemplated re-joining the queue to get a second. We didn’t but we should have.
Anyhow, back to Bird. Guilt free fried chicken, you say???YESSSSSSS!! I would no longer have to wait until nightfall to avoid being seen entering KFC, or use the excuse that after a night at the pub KFC was the only way to end the night.
So I headed down there a couple of weeks ago, on a Tuesday, for a girlie meal (only having had one pre-dinner drink at the Old Shoreditch) and entered a fried chicken establishment in broad daylight.
Remember I mentioned it was a Tuesday night? Well, I know how to get down with the kids (I am still one of the kids) but man, (the cool kids from the 80’s use man) there was no need for the music to be blaring so loud for all of the 30 or so customers at 7pm. I know this place is located on the Shoreditch end of Kingsland Road but I don’t think Bird is the partying kind of place. You want to be chomping down on fried chicken and not feel the vibrations from the sound system as you hit the chicken bone. 😉
The waitress told us that the chicken was brought in fresh each morning and the waffles came with bacon and we unfortunately couldn’t opt for waffles with no bacon as it was premixed.
At first I thought Bird were missing a trick here in not serving waffles without the bacon. Surely it would be a good idea to have the option of waffles with or without bacon on the menu? And then I thought, surely having the bacon already mixed in means the mixture turns bad faster? But then again, the flavours from the bacon could further intensify and infuse into the mixture. So even if you don’t get a piece of bacon in one bite you still get that smoky bacon flavour in the next. I was clearly over thinking Bird’s waffles (all in my head), I was clearly hungry.
Once we all got over how loud the music was (and I had stopped thinking about Bird’s waffles) we fixated our eyes on the menu. I ordered two pieces of the fried chicken and opted for a mix of white and dark meat with a buffalo glaze. My friend and I shared the house slaw and fresh cut fries.
We all snuck a in a few fries as soon as they were placed on the table. They were tepid and had gone soft, as if they had been sitting around for a little while. This was disappointing as I adore skin on fries. The house slaw was again disappointing. I could understand that Bird were trying to keep it simple with just an oil and vinegar dressing but both ingredients lacked oomph and real quality in flavour. Neither were worth £3.50. Not a great start.
I moved onto the fried chicken. The skin was GOOD. As fried chicken should be it had the crunch going on, so much so that I was fighting to keep the crumbs from falling onto my lap. I was impressed by how the chefs had managed to keep the skin so crunchy and not drench and soften the skin with the buffalo glaze.
The buffalo glaze could have done with a load more cayenne pepper. I know I am pepper/chilli crazy and can take on the heat like no one else can, but I think there may have only been a pinch of cayenne in this buffalo glaze to give it its colour. It made me think of a phrase in Krio my aunt uses when the pepper that is supposed to be hot turns out to be mild, ‘ Dis peppe noh wam sef. Porsin kin even rub em na yin eye!’. Meaning the pepper isn’t even warm. A person can rub it in their eyes. This was true about the glaze. Maybe I should have rubbed it in my eyes. A side of blue cheese sauce is classically served with buffalo chicken to cool your mouth but there was no need for this side with this dish. I didn’t use mine at all.
My friends ordered the fried chicken and griddled bacon & cheddar waffle with Canadian maple syrup, the big green salad and the Asian chopped salad. No one was overly impressed with their choices. The salads were a good size but not worth £11. My friend who ordered the Asian salad said that there were too many crispy wontons. My other friend who ordered the fried chicken and waffles agreed that coating on the fried chicken was crunchy but said the waffle was too dense and wasn’t very tasty.
The star dish was the corn pudding with cheese and jalapeno – pure comfort food!!
You imagine this side to be heavy with it being described as a pudding and having a thick layer of melted cheddar on top. It was!! It sinned in every way it could being creamy and fatty and kind of nutritious…. it worked. There was love in this dish.
Before leaving we were went to the toilets and it sounded like there was a bigger party going on down in the basement. The music was pumping and was even louder than the hand dryer. Guess they were intent on getting the party started early on in the week. Maybe I am no longer one of the kids .
I don’t feel Birds will be tearing me away from KFC just yet. They are not really taking fried chicken to a new level and I don’t think there is real justification in the prices they charge. The only justification could be because the chickens are free range. Or maybe I more of a dirty chicken kind of girl and have not quite matured (at 32 years of age) to eat at a ‘straight down the middle fried chicken restaurant’.