Review of 'Bird'

As well as many others in London I keep a regular eye on restaurant and event specials that appear in GroupOn. For restaurants I am looking for offers on places I have wanted to visit but just never had an excuse to visit (a bargain). Bird has been getting quite a reputation as a trendy up-market chicken and chips shop in equally trendy areas of the city (Islington, Shorditch, Camden and the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre). Make no mistake, this is a fried chicken shop but with a bit of a difference as not only is the chicken amazingly tasty and wonderfully prepared it is also free-range.

The offer from GroupOn was for “unlimited wings and fries”. Say no more. “Wings” are a serious weakness for me and since I have moved to the UK they have been a bit thin on the ground (for some reason) - Even when you do find them they are not really what I am looking for which is fresh, juicy tasty wings with a crispy coating and, perhaps, a good dip or sticky coating. So, could Bird deliver?

Located a short walk from the busy Highbury & Islington tube station. The former site of a pub on a street corner the clean tile-lined interior is packed with tables and bar stool seating. A bar is along the far end of the single room beside a large opening looking into the kitchen. We visited early, just after 6:30, on a Wednesday and were shown to the end of a six-seater table that we shared off on and during our visit with other diners. Yeah, I say shared, it was Wednesday and little did we know every Wednesday they are PACKED because of a special they have: £10 for wings and a beer. Over the course of our stay it got busier and busier with a queue out the door by the time we left just after 8.

Interior

Though our offer was for wings we had a look over the menu which is split into “Fried Chicken Burgers”, “Fried Chicken” (wings and chicken “tenders” - boneless pieces), “Fried Chicken & Waffles” and, witingly, “Not Fried Chicken” (including halloumi options, wraps, salads, grilled chicken, and even burgers) along with, of course, “Sides” which had a surprisingly good selection of options beyond the expected fries there are also things like “Deep Fried Pickles”, “Smoky Chilli Beans”, “Jalapeno Corn Pudding”, “House Caesar Salad” “House Slaw” and “House Pickles”. The prices are all reasonable with most mains below £10 and the menu gives me a sense of comfort fast food to fill your cravings.

We were here, of course, for our bottomless wings so after a few minutes waiting while the waiting staff decided about whether we could start our 90-minute session or not (they knew they were going to be busy) we were allowed to go ahead. The standard wings are offered in six or twelve skillets with your options of sauces/flavours: “Buffalo (glazed over chicken)”, “Korean (glazed over chicken)”, “Sticky Soy”, “Nashville Hot”, “House BBQ”, “Buttermilk Ranch”, “Wasabi Lime Mayo”, “Blue Cheese”, and “Honey Ginger”. We started with two servings of twelve wings, “Buffalo” and “Korean” flavours.

Wings

About five minutes later the wings arrived, piping hot and very delicious. See my criteria above? Yep, ticked all the boxes. The “Buffalo” sauce was quite spicy and got a bit much after 5-6 of them and the “Korean” sauce was quite strongly flavoured and not to the liking of my companion. We were given a small dipping container of blue cheese dressing that, not being a great fan of blue cheese, I found very strong and not really my thing despite it's cooling properties. The fries on the side were fine - perfectly cooked - floury and crispy - but the wings here were the star of the show.

Be assured there is a good amount of wet wipes available on the table to clean up on what is a very messy meal…

Slowing down slightly we next went for two servings of six: “Buttermilk Ranch” and “Honey Ginger” (staying clear of the hot or more boring flavours). These wings were served dry with the flavoured dips on the side. Once again the wings were fantastic but the dips were generally tasteless with the “Honey Ginger” our star player here as it certainly had more flavour than the incredibly mild ranch.

At this point the white flag was raised and with the restaurant now filling up it was now even more impossible to talk to each other. It was never very easy in this noisy interior but as the tables filled…We did manage to shout over the noise and agreed to order a dessert from our pleasant server: The “Doughnut Ice Cream Sandwich” (£4.50) - “A scoop of vanilla ice cream sandwiched in one of our daily glazed doughnuts, fresh whipped cream and chocolate & toffee fudge sauces.” Actually, they had a number of doughnut options on the menu as their yeast-based treats are cooked fresh on site. We could not resist the picture of this on the menu so it arrived to our table much anticipated despite already full from the wings…

Doughnut Ice Cream Sandwich

I found the doughnut delicious but the toffee fudge extremely sweet, cloying, and overpowering but I know that most would absolutely love it.

At just under £50 for the two of us for a rather large amount of food (probably more that you would eat on a normal visit, let's be honest - 18 wings each?? Seriously?) and including two soft drinks as well as a service charge (but before our discount) it was quite a good deal. The staff were very friendly and fun though often a bit difficult to get ahold of when busy. Don't visit on a Wednesday unless you (a) like the buzz and (b) like a good bargain…But, heck, do give it a visit if you love fried chicken. Delicious. Probably the best fried chicken I have had in London for quite some time.

Rating:

Review Date: 2017-07-26


Cuisine: American/British

Address: 81 Holloway Road, London N7 8LT ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Highbury & Islington

Location: London (England) - Islington

Map:

 

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Telephone: +44 (0) 203 195 8788

URL: http://birdrestaurants.com/