The burger wars rumble on unabated. In London currently not a moment goes by when another Pop-up pops, a Real burger joint keeps it real or a chef declares a residency. A residency? What? Isn’t that another word for giving a chef a temporary job?
Those who crave meat unground and unbovine may have felt short changed till now. The best they could hope for perhaps a chef at piri piri joint hitting their stride.
We’ve had posh pizza and burgers and with all this Nouveau fast food on the scene, it was only a matter of time before someone said – “You know what lets pimp up nandos and see what happens?”
So who else but those wily cats behind Soho House, via the guise of Pizza East.
The result – wood fired rotisserie chicken with crinkle cut fries and corn on the cob – simple Americana. It comes washed down with Camden town ales on tap (naturally) and a limited wine selection.
The ‘shop’ is located in the basement beneath the northern outpost of Pizza East (yes its in the North pendants). Its dark and wooden in that now ubiquitous speakeasy style that has swept through 1930’s America and straight up the Shoreditch high street without missing a beat. The staff are young, tattooed and deeply attractive which I can only presume are now prerequisites for anyone seeking a waiting job (sic) residency in one of these hipster joints.
An impressive rotisserie holds court at the end of the room and it smells delicious already. Chicken by the whole, half or quarter are on offer with a limited selection of sides. These aint just any old broiler either- your chicken is free range with impeccable breeding of course. Enamel Falconware dishes continue the theme and it all comes out in no time.
Its good no its very good, smokey and bad for you. Excellent chicken good fries, great corn and brilliant hot sauces which pull no punches on the heat. It’s priced sensibly and for chicken this good that you didn’t spend the best part of 2 hours cooking yourself, a bargain. They can’t churn this stuff out quick enough. It’s heaving even at 5 pm on a Saturday, they are queuing up the stairs and the wait is over an hour…
Its already a hit with the locals and their prodigious young. Finally somewhere that isn’t the middle class shaming “Giraffe”. Where the little darlings can “dine” while mother necks the merlot, stares at the waiters and remembers what it was like to be a total slut in the wrong part of town.
I’ll never get a table again… but no worry they do takeaway too. But for everyone else who isn’t a Kentish town local go early stick your name down and then wait upstairs at the bar in Pizza East.
Without seeming an apologist for this glut of modern reworked fast food, it’s taking a simple premise and reworking it, pushing the quality to its logical conclusion and then charging a small premium. The rights and wrongs are irrelevant as is calling it “posh”. Yes these things can border on the pretentious, but navel gazing serves no purpose – you’ll have missed out on that extra bit of chicken should you ruminate on this whole matter for too long. People may tire of this in due course in the same way the haute Michelin temples sometime leave us jaded and craving the humble golden arches. Others will stay fiercely loyal after their enlightenment either way the whole thing is circular and matters not a jot. It tastes good doesn’t it? It’s simple done well and it works as simple ideas are prone to do.
Chicken Shop has landed it’ll be the first of many I suspect.
P.S. It’s round the back….
Good burgers and milkshakes in the Meateasy vein. It perhaps offers the unique selling point of being able to scarf down a very good and very trendy burger and fries in a tin shack whilst staring at the entrance to LA Fitness. Temptation satisfaction voyeurism and self loathing turned inside out and back to front. How very postmodern.