The other day I had a chap on Twitter ask me if he could pay me to wedgie him in public. His bio read: “Works 9-5. Plays 5-9.” I’m just going to let than hang there for a bit. Soak in how bloody weird that is.
I don’t always just get strange requests like that from strangers. Sometimes I get intriguing offers… like the one I got the other week from @ClukShoreditch asking me out for dinner.
Now i’m not usually one to accept dinner invitations from strangers on the internet (not without swiping through their photos first), but on a bit more investigation I found that this mysterious Cluk was actually a brand new pop-up kitchen nestled within one of Shoreditch’s fun, vibrant bars just around the corner from Old Street Station, serving up chicken American style but with a hit of caribbean and latino flavours.
So I sent them a friendly DM and was promptly invited over to their gaff at Hoxton Seven with my wonderful friend Milly where we were presented with a veritable FEAST of the delights on their new menu.
Now it may seem quite obvious that Cluk specialises in chicken. For many it may seem like a menu that celebrates the humble poultry is a bit… simple, but places like Chicken Shop, Mother Clucker and even Nando’s have proven that when it’s done right, it can be bloody wonderful (yes I know it might be food blogger blasphemy but I bloody love a good Nando’s!) and so I find the chicken championing concept quite exciting.
We arrived and were greeted with smiles and an explanation of how Cluk operates within Hoxton Seven. As it’s a pop-up, it is separate from the bar, and so drinks are ordered and paid for separately to the food. So we grabbed some drinks first, a couple of whisky sours for £5 each (yay happy hour!) and checked out the menu.
Now one thing I should tell you is I completely forgot that Milly is a vegetarian… and I took her to a chicken pop-up! Potentially an absolutely disastrous move on my part which could have left poor Mills very hungry indeed. Naturally I expected heads to be shaken, faces to be palmed and for us to have basically been laughed out of our comfortable seats.
But these guys don’t alienate the non-meat eaters. They took on the challenge and provided a hearty, thick burger made with sweet potato. It was filling, it wasn’t risotto, or a vegetable tart… it was a winner. If nothing else, when faced with a challenge, these guys know how to up their game. Alongside that was a bowl of Mac n Cheese, London’s favourite side dish and a nostalgic fave of mine, too. It was cheesy and stringy with a crispy surface giving a light crunch amongst the soft macaroni.
For me, it was chicken galore. We were provided with a rather large platter; a best of plate of the menu which included tender grilled chicken breast, crunchy chicken goujons (one of my all time favourite words), wings and a chicken burger, all snuggled alongside a scattering of sweet potato fries, coleslaw and a selection of dips… some of which were blow-your-head-off spicy!
The chicken burger which was filled with a tender grilled chicken breast, a blanket of leaves and I added in the coleslaw for good measure. It was succulent and messy (the way a burger should be) and not before long was I dissecting and devouring the burger layer by layer.
The goujons were my favourite of the platter, with a crisp, fried bread crumb jacket that crunched while the chicken beaneath melted. I alternated my dip choice for these and found my mouth igniting with the spicier option. It had a punch as strong as Tyson but was so addictive I kept going back for more. Maybe i’m some kind of sadist, but there’s something about a spicy dip I just can’t resist suffering with!
The wings fell from the bone and had a sticky coating that left a tasty residue on my fingers. I coated them in some of the Cluk BBQ sauce which I also used to dip the sweet potato fries which were addictive, fluffy and the perfect chicken accompaniment!
After another round of Whisky Sours (still £5 each) we considered calling it a day, but then the dessert menu arrived and it would have been rude not to have given it a quick glance. Quite a few options lay out before us, but it was the Cake of the Day which intrigued us – a chocolate fudge cake with a raspberry sauce.
This cake was dense and so chocolatey it had an almost fruity sweetness to it. A heavy block of indulgent sponge, similar to a gooey brownie. It was rich, but the raspberries and the sauce drizzled across the plate cut up the flavour and added a lip puckering tang to each spoonful. The ice cream was smooth and creamy, and as it melted into the cake the deep chocolate flavours became marbled with the cold.
Cluk is an exciting addition to Hoxton Seven. By concentrating on one key ingredient they have been able to really do the humble bird justice, showcasing the many ways in which it can be enjoyed. While it may be a little confusing at first when it comes to the separate food and drink ordering, it is only a minor inconvenience, especially when the service is so friendly (especially from Nina, the co-founder of Cluk who clearly has a lot of passion for this concept). A lot of heart has obviously been put into every dish to ensure the chicken is succulent, fresh and tasty, all the way down to the bone.
I guess I should thank Twitter for bringing us together, and i’d definitely like to thank the wonderful team at Cluk for inviting me over to explore their new menu.
You can enjoy Cluk’s menu Sunday through to Wednesday from12pm–10pm, and Thursday through to Saturday 12pm–12am. Call + 44 (0) 7790 477 929 for reservations.