Last Valentine’s Day, my beautiful, funny, intelligent and simply wonderful single girlfriends and I met up at the Sebright Arms in Hackney for some Lucky Chip action. It was so much fun, we decided to meet up again this Valentine’s Day. Yes we’re all still single, we can’t understand it either!
This year we decided to go to Chicken Shop in Kentish Town, part of Soho House Group’s new development on Highgate Road (which also includes Dirty Burger and Pizza East). My friend Jane and I travelled up to Kentish Town together after work and met the rest of the girls in there. Unfortunately, Jane and I were so busy chatting, we walked straight up Highgate Road and right past it. It’s very easy to miss if no-one has told you that its right next door to Pizza East. The only marker is a bag hanging on the outside of a door. If it is caught inside the two doors (which it was when I had to pop outside to make a call halfway through the evening), you’ll easily walk past it.
Once through the front doors, you descend down a narrow staircase….
And into a warm, welcoming, open, dimly-lit basement with great 60s rock n roll playing and an enticing smoky aroma. A treat for all the senses!
Wood panelling has been shipped over from America, one of the walls containing old-school fridges and freezers hidden in the wood. Potato sacks are piled up below the menu.
The staff are remarkably cheery (and attractive) and immediately took our drink orders, then they explained the menu. You can have a whole chicken (£14.50), half of one (£8) or a quarter (£4). You can share it with friends or just have your own portion. We all immediately stated that none of us wanted to share, we wanted our own. (Maybe this is why we’re all still single).
The chicken is free-range from Norfolk. It is marinated overnight and steam-cooked, before being finished on a rotisserie grill over a charcoal and wood fire.
I ordered half a chicken (requesting dark meat only), crinkle cut fries and a side of coleslaw.
Our food arrived about 5 minutes later, the chicken jointed into sections. The chicken itself was wonderfully juicy and flavoursome, the skin was crispy and smoky.
On the table are sauces you can add to it…smokey and hot. I tried the smokey one but to be honest, it didn’t add anything, I actually preferred the chicken as it came.
The crinkle cut fries were ace…perfectly seasoned, crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy inside and reminiscent of my childhood. Why do so few places do crinkle cut these days? The coleslaw was creamy (but not overly creamy in a sickly way), fresh and crunchy. I loved it.
I also tried Cassie’s corn on the cob. The waitress explained that the corn is boiled then grilled, then brushed with coriander, chilli and garlic butter. Even though I hate both coriander and chilli, this tasted awesome. When it arrived at the table, the waitress asked Cassie if she would like some extra butter brushed on, which she did (and that’s why I love her). She had a pot of butter and a paintbrush with her with which she applied the extra butter. I immediately loved this place.
Each one of us tucked into our meals, some being more ‘polite’ than others and going in with cutlery. I went straight in with my hands. Within minutes, we were all tearing at the chicken, a bit like that scene in Gremlins, although with a far less dramatic outcome. Everything tastes better when you eat it with your fingers.
Soon, the table was littered with empty pots full of chicken bones, and we were all sitting back in our seats rubbing our rapidly expanding tummies. (Again, maybe another clue as to why we’re all still single).
When we were asked if we wanted dessert, we forgot about our tummy pains and said “Yes!”. We had heard that the deep-filled apple pie was fantastic so most of us went for that, myself included. I was so glad I did. It comes to the table in one huge pie dish and your waiter or waitress serves you a huge portion of it, along with a scoop of ice-cream.
Next on the table was a huge jug filled with double cream. God I loved this place.
This really was a fantastic apple pie. It tasted just like my mums, and my mum makes great apple pie. The crust was crunchy and buttery, the apples soft and sweet plus there was lots of cinnamon in there too. A couple of the girls commented that it tasted of Christmas.
I tried some of Jane’s chocolate brownie which was a) huge and b) very tasty. Crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside. But I think she wished she’d ordered the apple pie.
At the end of the evening, we all commented on what a great evening we’d had. The restaurant itself has a great vibe to it, the smells coming from the kitchen are intoxicating, the music had us all dancing in our seats, the food itself was delicious, the staff were so friendly and helpful (did I mention how attractive they all were?) and what was even better, it wasn’t expensive. Mine came to £27 including tip, however I wasn’t drinking. I guess it would add up quickly if I’d been drinking.
We all left in high spirits, tummies full and satisfied. Another Valentine’s Day out of the way. I will definitely be back here soon.
Chicken Shop, 79 Highgate Road, Camden, London NW5 1TL
020 3310 2020