Thursday, 4 October 2012

Chicken Shop / Dirty Burger

The Soho House Group have been busy bees this past few years, both with their clubs/hotels and also in food-led offerings, principally through Pizza East. The lucky denizens of Kentish Town were probably rather surprised not only to be receiving the third Pizza East, but also to be the blessed guinea pigs for two new ideas, premiering at the location. These are Chicken Shop and Dirty Burger.

Despite the fuss, and the potential for commercialism backlash, I have to say, they are both bloody good. Chicken Shop is focused on rotisserie rather than fried chicken, and does it extremely well. No bookings and a very dark space welcome those who descend the stairs. Service is attentive and positively brisk in a welcome way (we were ravenous) and so the rotisserie chicken sure enough appears instantly.

A nostalgic highlight among the sides are the crinkle cut chips (although these are bettered at Dirty Burger) but the chicken really is the star. It’s served in pieces unlike that impaled, under-seasoned bird at Tramshed – and is seasoned and charred in spots to give it a true grilled taste. Supermarket spit chicken this is not, but at £14.50 for a whole one, it’s a bargain.

My one gripe about Chicken Shop is quite specific – the house prosecco is £37 a bottle which is too steep for this venue. Other booze is well priced in comparison, so stick to that. So beyond that trifling lesson learned, it’s a great new concept and I’ll no doubt darken their stairwell for such a simple, satisfying feed.

Another star mention goes to the apple pie - homemade and apportioned to your table. The waitress let us have the biggest slice, easily good for two to share, and it was phenomenal even if my pic suggests otherwise:

Dirty Burger is round the back, in the car park. I’m impressed with the creative kit-out and branding of what is basically a burger van cocooned by corrugated iron. I’m sharply told that burgers come medium well, when I protested the lady very pleasantly explained that they would be so juicy, it didn’t matter. And whilst she was right, I’d still rather have had it a touch pinker. 

It is a great burger for the price point (sub £6), and I understand the assembly line uniformity keeps the prices simple and the slinging quick, but if Shake Shack and others of the ilk they’re aspiring to can cook to order within certain constraints, they should be able to equally. Another angle here is the confidence in meat quality and how that’s reflected in a venue’s willingness to go rare.

But that aside, for a quick burger experience I rate it highly. It was juicy and tender to the point where it probably could have been mawed.

Special mention, above and beyond the crinkle cut fries (which beyond the novelty shape aren’t amazing fries), are the onion fries. These are short strips of onion, battered and fried to create chips, with incredible flavour. Debatably the most memorable thing here. I could have happily devoured another serving while finishing up my pints of Camden Pale, but the queue was too long to hop up again.

Selfishly, I’m hoping for a similar theme park of comfort food to open closer to my house. These guys genuinely do have some great businesses here and I bet we’ll be seeing a lot more of them. 

Food – 9/10
Drink – 8/10
Service - 8/10 (quick and keen)
Value – 9/10 (excellent, if you skip the prosecco)
Tap water tales – 9/10 (tap offered in Chicken Shop immediately)
Staff Hotness – 8/10 (well selected, with something for everyone to enjoy)

Chicken Shop on Urbanspoon
Dirty Burger on Urbanspoon
Square Meal
Square Meal

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