There’s a running joke on Facebook about Nigerians and chicken. It goes something like this:
Yeah, we love our chicken to the bone and beyond. I remember when Nando’s opened and Nigerians packed that chain out for months, until the novelty wore off.
Back in Naija (the homeland), one of our staple snacks is chicken suya, deliciously spiced skewers of chicken barbecued over a naked flame and served with extra pepper and onions on the side. Like the even more popular beef or ram suya, it’s eye-wateringly tasty (and hot).
When the Babe papa offered to treat us to ‘the best chicken in London by far’ I was prepared to be under-whelmed. But one evening we popped into Chicken Shop in Kentish Town and I became an instant convert.
The latest diner from the unstoppable force behind Soho House, whose joints like Pizza East and Dirty Burger are always packed to the rafters, Chicken Shop has just one main dish on the menu. This is not the only restaurant that specialises in rotisserie chicken (review of Le Coq in N1 coming soon) but it’s definitely one you should add to your list.
When we entered, it was busy but they promised to seat us within half an hour and we were able to sit at a side table and have drinks (love the wine pitchers), while scoping out the blackboard menu.
The birds are free-range, reared on a farm in Norfolk, sent to London and marinated overnight before being spit-roasted over charcoals on the special rotisserie grill. You can order a whole chicken, half or quarter, and add sides like crinkle cut fries, coleslaw, butter lettuce and avocado salad, or corn on the cob.
Within 20 minutes we were at our table, rubbing our hands in anticipation. A quick bathroom break gave us a closer look at the chefs working those chickens over the fire.
I was salivating by the time the chicken platters came (ahem) winging their way towards us. Boy, did they look juicy. We’d ordered a whole chicken, cut up to share.
I’m a sucker for corn and avocado so couldn’t have been happier with my sides, while all you could hear from the boys was the sound of crunching on fries.
And the chicken… oh, the chicken. Plump and tender and juicy and beautifully seasoned, each mouthful tasted better than the last, especially when I threw on some hot sauce. Sometimes a chilli sauce adds fire but dims flavour, but the Chicken Shop hot sauce amps things up on every level. Their Smokey bbq sauce is good too, but I prefer the heat.
We wanted to leave room for dessert, so bagged our leftover chicken. Again the selection is minimal: deep-filled apple pie, warm chocolate brownie or lemon cheesecake, all served with fresh cream or vanilla ice cream scoops.
The brownie was dark and gooey, but I was so stuffed with mains I couldn’t do it justice. Abiye’s apple pie was HUGE but he handled it like a pro and declared it one of the best he’s tasted.
This is a fun place to come with the kids for the spectacle of the open kitchen, the fuss-free menu and the fairly boisterous atmosphere. There were a few diners with babies and toddlers tucking in when we arrived.
The vibe might feel a bit hip and upmarket to get your fingers really dirty, but we didn’t care. However if sucking bones next to the beautiful people isn’t quite your bag, Chicken Shop also does takeouts from 5pm on weekdays and from 12pm on weekends.
Chicken Shop is Downstairs at 79 Highgate Rd, NW5 1TL (Kentish Town tube), open 5pm-midnight (Mon-Fri), 12pm-midnight (Sat), 12pm-10pm (Sun) and also in Tooting at Ground Floor 141 Tooting High St, SW17 0SY (Tooting Broadway tube), open 12pm-10.30pm daily