Menu – very matchy-matchy with the Gingerline above us…
It’s always good to come towards the end of a week feeling you’ve learned something new and taken away a different perspective on the world.
This week, that revelation was stark and eye-opening: that not all chicken and chips are created equal.
I have to admit, I was slightly up-tight about heading to BIRD, given its location on Kingsland Road, right between the Overground Stations at Shoreditch and Hoxton. This is the only part of London where I’ve never felt comfortable – that innate feeling of not being able to pull-off the ‘cool’ that is required around these parts.
This sign says Bird…
But truth is, offered a decent slap-up meal and I’d even head to a distant hell-hole such as Clapham.
So here I was, with a work colleague, at a smart little restaurant tucked under the Gingerline railway bridge. And right from the start this place was a joy!
Interior with a bit of lager
Think American diner with just the right amount of East London character and you can imagine yourself here – exposed brick, a mix of table sizes, bright red wooden chairs – it all works without seemingly trying too hard.
But anyway, I was here for the chicken! We let the waitress choose our dishes for us and we didn’t regret it.
Chicken wings arrived and glowed a rich orange colour in a hot and sweet Gochujang glaze which had an immense, moreish kick. A buttermilk dipping sauce helped tame the vinegary tang.
The wings could easily serve as a main but looked no more than an amuse-bouche when the chicken and waffle burger arrived. Served on two plates it was a little shocking to discover this was actually just one portion which they’d divided for us.
Waffle burger insanity
This thing was quite epic, in every sense of the word. Boneless chicken thighs, bacon, American cheese, shallots, hot sauce and Canadian maple syrup all squeezed together between two cheese and onion waffles. The trajectory of delight eating this was definitely curved – I hit a real sweet spot about half-way through before I had to slow down as I could actually feel my body developing type 2 diabetes on the spot.
But far from defeat, I was also happy to tuck into three side dishes – skinny fries, deep fried pickles and padron peppers – the latter especially adept at cutting through the sweetness of the waffles.
And to wash it down? Well, some decent canned beer – both Camden Hells Lager and the Aberdonian BrewDog Punk IPA (one of my favourite beers of all time).
Oh, and it’s not something I’m proud of, but we also shared an ice cream doughnut sandwich (served fresh whipped cream, chocolate and caramel sauce).
On the face of it, BIRD is just chicken and chips. But it feels so much more. Yes, there are other places that do this kind of thing in London (especially in this part of town), but charming service, effortless cool, free range birds and a chicken glaze which makes your face screw itself up with pleasure/pain aren’t run-of-the-mill qualities. And they have a doughnut hatch!
I’m a little less scared of Shoreditch now, a good job because their weekend breakfast menu looks good…
BIRD can be found at 42-44 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8DA