If you like simplicity and you love chicken, good news! There is a basement restaurant up the road from Kentish Town station that serves just that; chicken served simple.
The interior is inspired by 1950’s American general stores. Imagine a lot of raw wood and exposed brick with charcoal blue painted walls. It looks much like the way I would imagine a young wealthy bachelor might decorate his “man pad”. It’s cool, rustic and dark, yet modern and inviting. From the start the service was fantastic. One of the hostesses greeted us straight away as we descended the stairs and allowed us to choose our own table. We opted to sit right in front of the action at a very large wooden kitchen bench that stood between the rest of the restaurant and the rotisserie.
The menu is minimal. Basically if you don’t like chicken, you’re screwed, because that IS the menu. Chicken. The only decision you have to make is what size you want yours to be. Quarter (£4.50) , Half (£8.50) or Whole (£15). A half is just more than enough for 2 people, especially if you add some sides into the mix too, which we did. Crinkle Cut Chips and Coleslaw (£4 each) accompanied our flame grilled half chicken to make this a filling lunch. Both sides were plentiful (no holding back with the portion size) and I was surprised how much meat you actually can get on half a chicken.
The Coleslaw was crunchy and fresh, made with a thin mayonnaise which meant it wasn’t overly creamy or sickly and went well with the chicken. The Crinkle Cut Chips were thick and fluffy and were very nice when dipped in the supplied condiments – a choice of Chicken Shop Hot Sauce or Smokey Sauce (Smokey being my preference and made even nicer when combined with a bit of mayo or ketchup)
The chicken itself is cooked really well, and will transport you instantly to the summer with that chargrilled smokey taste. It’s worth fighting for the skin, and squeezing a bit of lemon over it really makes it a great BBQ-y mouthful! Unfortunately I must commit food blogger blasphemy now and say that, if I’m truly honest, it doesn’t quite have the same addictive flavour of Nando’s (yes, I like Nandos, ok?! I’m sorry!), and I know i’m not the first to say that! But in all fairness, The Chicken Shop still serves great tasting chicken without any fancy added extras (like that famous Piri Piri) so a comparison isn’t really fair… but you can’t help but make one anyway! But after all, this restaurant is about honest cooking – they keep simplicity running throughout, from their menu and interior design, through to the flavours, and that is what will keep bringing people down to this uncomplicated restaurant.
The Chicken Shop is brought to you by Soho House and so the quality and finesse you experience is nothing short of what you’d expect. I am now eager to try the neighbouring restaurants from the same owners, Pizza East & Dirty Burger (I know, i’m pretty late to the party with these), both of whom i’ve heard fantastic things about (and are also available in other locations). Needless to say, my first experience of this Kentish Town trilogy has certainly whet my appetite!