What's on the menu of a host of new restaurant openings? Lip-smacking chicken.
Forget pulled pork buns, Monterey Jack-coated hamburgers and chilli-smothered corn dogs; right now, if the most talked about new restaurant openings are any indication, the meat to be seen eating is that of the humble chicken.
Best served crisp-roasted with buckets of fries and a hefty mound of coleslaw or deep fried and whacked between a brioche bun, there’s nothing simpler or more instantly appealing.
What’s more, chicken is low in calories and high in protein. Small wonder, then, that chicken shops are popping up in London’s most fashionable districts. Here’s our pick of the best new places to do the bird.
Signature dish: Whole chicken (for two to share)
Drink: Temperley mojito tea
Ideal for: Long Friday lunches
Cost: £30–£40 per head
The latest opening from Esquire’s resident chef, Mark Hix, Tramshed is an East End temple to good chicken (though they also serve some mean steaks).
Offered whole and crisped to perfection, Tramshed’s Woolley Park chickens are raised in a free-range outdoor environment and are able to scratch around in the fields. Not only ethical: this rearing results in some of the most succulent, golden skinned and flavoursome chicken we’ve eaten.
There’s also a takeaway service, where you can pick up a half a chicken with chips for under a tenner. Result.
32 Rivington Street, London EC2A 3LX - chickenandsteak.co.uk
2 Chicken Shop
Signature dish: Chicken from the spit with smoky sauce
Drink: Cream soda
Ideal for: Lazy Sunday lunch
Cost: £16 per head
Nick Jones has entered London’s burgeoning chicken diner scene — and it’s a world away from his Soho House members’ clubs.
Chicken Shop’s birds are second to none: bathed overnight in a secret-recipe marinade, grilled over charcoal and wood chips until crispy then rotisseried and served with triple cooked fries, coleslaw and sweet corn on the cob. 79 Highgate Road London, NW5 1TL - chickenshop.com
Signature dish: Fried chicken roll with Sriracha aioli
Drink: Frozen hibiscus margarita
Ideal for: Pre-club grub
Cost: £10–15 per head
Takeaway?: It’s coming
Rita’s Bar and Dining, a new restaurant from Jackson Boxer, the brains behind South London’s Brunswick House Café, was originally going to be principally a fried chicken outlet.
The menu’s broadened out a bit since, but the fried chicken roll and unctuous soy and ginger chicken wings are still the pick of the offerings. Dalston’s best kept secret — for now.
Signature dish: Korean-style twice-fried chicken wings
Drink: Hobo beer
Ideal for: Post-club refuelling
Cost: £15 per head
“Wishbone takes something that was mistreated — overcooked, greasy, left in a hot cupboard for hours — and treats it as the hero,” says resident chef and food writer William Leigh. From crisp chicken pieces to succulent burgers and piles of wings (try the twice fried versions), this is the end-of-the-night staple at its best — and the sides are just as good. wishbonebrixton.co.uk
5 And For After Dinner Drinks - Morton's
Head back west to the newly refurbished bar at Central London’s lesser-known members’ club, Morton’s. Located in Mayfair’s Berkeley Square, the red brick club has a laid-back atmosphere, superb (but totally undersold) restaurant and airy private dining room.
Now, at the hands of club maestros Jake Parkinson-Smith and Carlo Carello, the club’s basement bar “2&8” has been given a major overhaul. Art Deco-inspired with an abundance of mirrors and, ahem, stiletto-proof banquettes, the bar is a marked improvement on the original rather dingy offering.
Try “The Square”, an angular ice sculpture filled with premium vodka, raspberry puree, lime and Dom Pérignon champagne. Very Mayfair. mortonsclub.com