Chicken Licken | The Weekday Lunch Menu At BIRD, 42/44 Kingsland Road, E2 8DA, London
We’ve been trying to get over to BIRD in Shoreditch for months now. When they launched their weekday lunch menu, we were gutted that our ‘day job’ is just that little bit to far away to get over to try it, especially as they were offing a 50% off during their soft launch. Eventually the opportunity arose to get over to Kingsland Road and dive, headfirst, into their fried chicken.
When we say fried chicken you have to eradicate any image of KFC from your minds. Owners Paul and Cara have a real passion for fried chicken and it got them thinking: ‘People have elevated the burger and they’ve done a great job, so, what if chicken were beef?’
They added: ‘All of our ingredients are of the highest quality, sourced responsibly and delivered fresh daily – you’d be surprised how rare that is when it comes to fried chicken!’
The chicken is described as ‘free range and fried’ not just the actual meat but also their attitude to what they do – naughty but nice. Bloody nice, because unlike in fried chicken chains, the flavour isn’t just skin deep. The quality of the actual chicken is what makes a huge difference here. Plus it’s not just from America (Brooklyn, Chicago and Philadelphia) that they’ve taken inspiration, Asian frying methods also have huge influence. And as the chicken is coated and cooked in corn flour (with other ‘secret’ ingredients) it’s gluten-free, great news Coeliac disease sufferers.
There is a really chilled feel to BIRD, the diners are young and cool but not that super trendy big beard and top-knot set that you can get, especially around East London. This allows for a spattering of young teens, fathers and sons and almost middle-aged fellas like me.
Decor is fairly standard, polished concrete floors, exposed bricks and pipework. What we loved and what sets it apart from the typical industrial feel are the liberal splashes of primary colours. There are bright blue gingham effect tiles, pillar box red chairs, electric blue banquette seating and feature walls made from green plastic bottles. But what we liked best were the brightly coloured BIRD logo patterned Formica topped tables and the backlit cinema style specials board – both giving a retro diner-esque feel. The music was great too, a laid back soundtrack of R&B and old school HipHop classics.
The weekday lunch menu offers excellent value for money, just £8 for a main and a side OR donut or a tenner for a main, side AND a donut. There’s a choice of six mains and four sides and we had a belly busting 75% of them! Basically all we didn’t try was the Nashville hot sliders, Mu Shu crispy fried chicken and their Little green salad.
But before I waffle on about the fantastic chicken that we ate, I have to mention the only low point – my Cherry sour (£7.50). It didn’t overly taste of cherries and it wasn’t in the slightest bit sour, maybe stick to their unusual selection of craft beer. Saff’s Dirty Ribena (£7.50) was much better. The bourbon, blackcurrant and lemonade was a simple mix giving a rich, full yet fruity hit.
Here’s a brief run down of the dishes in my order of preference. Saff will probably disagree, but hey, I’m writing this review!
1) Chicken caesar salad: Baby gem lettuce, house Caesar dressing, parmesan, croutons, bacon bits and grilled or fried chicken. I know what you’re thinking: ‘A salad at the top of the list? Are you mad?’ No, I haven’t gone all Randle Patrick McMurphy on you. This salad was so crispy, the fried chicken, the thick cut smokey bacon, the lettuce and the giant cubed croutons (especially the croutons) had so much crunch, texture and flavour. Psychologically you think it’s the healthy option, after all it’s a salad, don’t be fooled, the plentiful chunks of Parmesan and generous drizzling of dressing probably sends the calorie count sky-high.
2) Fried chicken biscuit sandwich: Freshly baked buttermilk biscuit, fried chicken, honey butter and hot sauce. I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for Southern cooking, so much so, we are trying to plan a trip to Austin and New Orleans later in the year. The soft, almost sweet biscuit (or scone) is the perfect partner for the crispy skinned chicken, the hot (buffalo) sauce simply adds to the southern vibe.
3) Korean burger: Fried chicken, gochujang glaze, kimchi slaw. Now it’s off to the other side of the world for what was Saff’s fave. The burger packed a real chilli kick but still allowed the more subtle Korean flavours to seep through. The big plus point for Saff – o cheese!
4) Classic bacon and cheese burger: Fried chicken, thick cut bacon, American cheese, BBQ sauce, cos lettuce. The chicken is crisp, the bacon smokey, the cheese salty and the BBQ sauce sweet. There is absolutely nowt wrong with this burger but something has to come last, right?
We also ordered some sides, the Fresh cut fries with house seasoning. These in-house prepared shoestring fries had a nice crunch, but this style have a tendency to go cold far too quickly.
The Korean cucumbers with rice vinegar, pepper flakes sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds was by far my favourite, crisp and refreshing. Their House slaw was very light, possibly a little bland, but maybe what is needed to counterbalance all the fried chicken.
The daily changing glazed donuts are a must. Saff had a perfectly pillowy sugared donut. Believe it or not I was too full to eat my peanut butter cream variety, so I boxed it up and saved it for a donut and coffee breakfast in bed the following morning, it made a welcome change from cholesterol-lowering porridge.
Bird’s lunch time menu is excellent value especially as all their chicken are 100% free range, from British farms and delivered fresh daily. We left the restaurant very happy, and very full. As we wandered (or should that be waddled) back to the car we passed Dishoom. We can never just walk past Dishoom, we had to pop in for a chai and discuss our imminent trip to Street Feast at Model Market in Lewisham. But that is a completely different story.
42/44 Kingsland Road,
London, E2 8DA
Telephone: 0207 613 5168
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 8am-11.30pm (Thurs-Sat -12M)
Nearest station: Hoxton (8 mins walk) Shoreditch High Street Station (9 mins walk)
We ate as guests of BIRD, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.