So we’ve had hot dogs, pulled pork and burgers, but it seems that 2013 has been the year of the trusted, commodity meat – the chicken.
I’m not talking about bad experiences of cheap, deep fried, high street chicken (admit it, you’ve watched at least some of the reality TV show…?), or old faithful Peri Peri chicken from that well-known Portuguese chain. I’m talking about quality, free range, juicy birds straight from the spit over a naked flame, with simple marinades and pared-back sides, all wrapped in a slick, casual dining set up.
It all began with street food and the likes of Spit and Roast, specialising in rotisserie chicken and dangerously good buttermilk fried chicken. We then saw it moving in-doors with the opening of Clockjack Oven and so started the chicken revolution. More recently in London, restaurants such as LeCoq and Poulet Rouge have opened with a more, wide ranging bespoke offering but still with succulent rotisserie chicken as the focus.
At the weekend, I finally got around to sampling the delights of the much talked about Chicken Shop in Kentish town. Wonderfully simple, the main ingredient served as either a half, quarter or whole, alongside a choice of four simple sides and two house sauces. If like me you are prone to decision anxiety when ordering, this uncomplicated menu is a great way to eat. You are assured from the minute you sit down at the large counter in front of a wall of slowly rotating spit chickens with juices dripping and roasted aroma wafting, that the offering, although limited in choice, is plentiful in taste, quality, size and simplicity. On the whole it was a great Sunday experience for me and my family.
When looking at it with my chef’s hat on, what I loved most about Chicken Shop is its exemplary margin making model. With a seldom changing menu allowing for minimal wastage and the bulk buying of quality free range produce, it is a truly savvy casual dining concept that capitalises on traditional commodity ingredients through simplicity itself.