So as I was saying, Chicken Shop opened its fifth London location in Balham last week. This new opening had been on my radar, but evidently my invitation to the opening night got lost in the post (ahem). On the opening day they were offering a 50% discount on meals. Unfortunately I only realised this two days later whilst making my way to a pre-arranged dinner date at the Tooting branch with Hannah. They do say timing is everything... this time we evidently got it wrong (by 2 days and approximately 1 mile). Nonetheless, it turns out that Chicken Shop is pretty good value, even at full price.
Chicken Shop has a super short and simple menu. Which I generally see as a good thing - I'd rather a restaurant do one thing well than have a menu that's longer than my arm but full of mediocre dishes. The chickens are marinated overnight and then cooked on a rotisserie. Depending on how many of you there are and your hunger levels, you can choose to have a quarter chicken, a half or a whole. Then you can choose from a handful of sides: chips, coleslaw, corn on the cob and a butter lettuce and avocado salad. With a menu that short it doesn't take long to decide. Nor, it turns out did it take long for the food to arrive - I think it was placed in front of us less than 5 minutes after we ordered. This is nothing less than efficient, but I personally prefer a few more minutes to soak up the atmosphere, sip my drink and chat before a meal arrives, but I suppose this is a fast food restaurant. And soon after our arriving there was a queue that led out the door, so I can understand why they want a quick turn around.
|Leg, breast, thigh, wing: half a chicken|
The chicken was really tasty with its lightly spiced marinade and chargrilled flavour. It was basically what Nando's chicken wishes it was. The skin was nice and crispy too (especially on the wing - yum!) and the meat was mostly succulent, apart from the breast unfortunately. Usually rotisserie chicken succeeds in not being dry because the meat juices are redistributed through the meat as it rotates and cooks. I can only assume that this chicken must have stayed on the rotisserie a few minutes too long. Luckily we were provided with two sauces (hot and smokey) to tackle any drier meat. I used the smokey one which had a good flavour and didn't overwhelm with chilli spice. We also had some mayonnaise on the side which was really tasty... it took me most of the meal to figure out why it tasted different and then I realised it tasted like it had been made with olive oil. Which was kind of unusual, but good. I'm not sure whether the mayo was home made or if it's that new Hellman's they've been advertising on TV. Either way, I liked it.
The sides impressed too - the crinkle cut fries were crisp, the coleslaw was nice and tangy and not overly doused in dressing/mayonnaise, and the corn on the cob had a delicious garlic butter on it, which had melted and formed little pools between the lightly charred kernels.
When it came to dessert, the menu was just as succinct as the mains, with three choices: deep-filled apple pie, zesty lemon tart and warm and gooey chocolate brownie. All of which were served with either whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. As a chocolate fiend, the brownie was obvious choice. With ice cream of course.
I was slightly concerned when the waitress mentioned that the brownie had nuts in it, because to my mind chocolate and nuts should be kept entirely separate. I love them both individually, but I just think the world's a better place when the two don't meet. However, my fears were alleviated when I discovered the brownie was full of macadamias, which are, after all, the king of nuts and my favourite. And their smooth texture and creamy taste actually work really well with chocolate.
The brownie was so tempting and delicious that we dove straight in and I forgot to take a photo, so you'll just have to imagine the warm, fudgey brownie with crunchy macadamias studded through it like diamonds, and the creamy vanilla ice cream melting all over the top of it. Sorry about that.
How do you feel about single dish restaurants? Have you tried Chicken Shop / Dirty Burger / Pizza East?