I happened to be in London for a couple of days and had a hankering for some good fried chicken (something a little lacking in Cardiff, in my humble opinion, although I have heard tell that the Prairie Girl at Burger Theory is pretty good – shamefully not tried it – and then there is the chicken and waffles at Hangfire in Barry and Korean fried chicken at Kimchi in Canton).
A quick trawl of the internet came up with a myriad of options, which I narrowed down (needing them to be in central London) to a couple of places after mining the collective knowledge of Twitter (it has its fault, but for getting info. regarding good food options Twitter is a brilliant resource). The two most suggested places were Chick’n’Sour and Coqfighter.
As a hopelessly indecisive person when it comes to food (I want it all – actually that is just being plan greedy rather than being decisive), both menus looked top draw, I did the obvious thing and rather than choose one I went to both (on different days I might add).
My thoughts on Chick’N’Sours will follow in due course. Originally I intended to cover both in one post, but even I (who views War and Peace as a mere short story) thought it a tad long. So, after much deliberation, I decided to split them into two distinct posts with this about Coqfighter.
In terms of the central Soho location of this place, I have to say it is either a work of genius or an uncanny coincidence to site a fried chicken restaurant on a Street prefaced by the word “Beak”.
In terms of the food offering, the menu is short and sweet with just 4 burgers, wings and a bao offering.
I am tempted to say 3 burgers, as I automatically discounted the vegan “soya chickn” number. If I go to a chicken restaurant it is (unsurprisingly, at least to my mind) for chicken.
🚨 Rant alert🚨
What is a “soya chickn fillet” anyway – surely the “chick” bit is totally superfluous (seems to me to be a bit like the very weirdly named “Quorn vegetarian chicken slices” or the downright odd “Vegan chicken free slices” – not got a cat’s arse in it either, so why doesn’t that feature in the title!)?
Veggie and vegan stuff is fine (I am not going to tell people what to eat or drink, do what you like, with the blog merely detailing what I like and occasionally don’t like to eat and drink), but I really don’t get why we seem to have to have this “It’s not meat, but let’s call it meat” narrative?
I mean this is madness, isn’t it?
It may be many things, but it ain’t a butcher is it!
Quite rightly, people would start looking at me very (well more) strangely if I walked into a butcher’s shop and pointed at the bacon and said I’ll have a couple of “Carnivore vegetable/vegetable free slices” please or started referring to said butcher as a “vegetable-free greengrocer”.
I have no issue with calling a bean burger “a burger” (to be renamed, under a possible EC regulation, a veggie disc – yummy) or a vegan sausage “a sausage” (rather than the proposed veggie tube – double yummy), just don’t see any need to add “chickn”/”chicken free” or stuff of that ilk to its name.
🚨 Rant over 🚨
Back to the chicken, whilst I was drawn to both the “Original” and the “Honey Ginger Buffalo”, this place’s “Green Chilli Cheese” burger (£9) had come highly recommended when I asked for suggestion for fried chicken in London on Twitter. Being a bit of a chilli wooze, I approach this with some hesitation.
What arrived was a magnificently filthy looking beast, which promised much. So did it live up to its fine facade?
Sat in a toasted sesame seed bun (that did its job, in that it held itself together until pretty much the end) was a hulking piece of fried chicken (love a bit of bun overspill me) topped with gooey American cheese and chopped pickled green chillies
The chicken had a good crisp coating (the sandwiching between cheese and mayo did mean it got a tiny bit soggy towards the end) and it was a quality bit of buttermilk marinaded thigh meat (so much more flavour than breast). The chillies and chipotle mayo added a nice piquancy, without blowing my socks off (lack of socks seemed to be very de riguer in this place).
The cheese brought filthiness to the equation, causing a high napkin count and major beard detritus!
On the sides front, I went full piggy (or should it be chiggy) and ordered the fries (being intrigued by the addition of dashi – always think of it as a stock – and smoked paprika)
and the daikion salad.
The fries (£3) were as a good chip should be, with a crisp exterior and a fluffy interior. Good portion size too. Whilst I got the smoked paprika, I am not sure what the dashi brought to the equation (perhaps my taste buds aren’t up to detecting such nuances of flavour).
The daikon salad (£3) had a lovely Far Eastern flavour to it with more than a touch of gochujang ( I think) in the soy sauce heavy Korean mix. Nice level of acidity here to offset the richness of the fried chicken and fries. Very refreshing palate cleansing stuff.
On the booze front, I think they have missed a trick by not calling the short wine list the “Coq au vin” (I am clearly wasted as a lawyer or perhaps not) 😁.
The limited number of wines look fairly priced (for instance, the Le Lesc retails for about £9.50 and here is £20), but I fancied a beer.
I decided, from the short list, on the Beavertown Brewery neck oil (£5 per can).
Very gluggable session IPA, this was a good foil to the richness of the chicken and cheese.
The bill was £22 (with the automatically service charge – everywhere in London seem to add it even if you just have a drink and they increasing dispensing with the “discretionary” these days).
Have to say though, I was slightly surprised to see (the somewhat “Only way is Essex – esque”) “cheers babes” on the bill? Was it just for me or is it for every customer? I assume the latter, but if not “Back at you, Tris”!
Oddly the bill also came with a matchbook – takes me back to days of yore when smoking wasn’t taboo (filthy habit which I gave up well over a quarter of a century ago, for which biltong takes much credit, but it did seem in hindsight to operate to hide a multitude of olfactory sins).
Must be a new hipster thing, as the place is achingly hip. I stood out like a sore thumb (or is it a loose bum, me being so unhip) as my trousers were below my ankles rather than 3 inches above them and I had socks on. It also appears (for hipsters) the beard is out and the 70’s tache is in, so my purely accidental “on trend” period seems to have come to an end.
I assume matchbooks are back in “retro” vogue, presumably to light up a vegan Tibetan “not yak sort of fat” candle rather than a Lambert & Butler.
This place offer very good fried chicken and on that alone I would certainly recommend it. It put the likes of, the disappointing, Slim Chickens in Cardiff to shame.
Would I go back? It is a bit of a hipster haven and I found the “Cheers babe” on the bill just a bit odd if I am honest, but I love a good bit of fried chicken and this place certainly delivered that.
Despite the achingly hipster, “cheers babes”, vibe and the use of the word “chickn” to describe a bit of soy, this was a good recommend from @plwmbwm 👍
Address: 79 Beak Street, Soho, London, W1F 9SS
Nearest tube station: Piccadilly Circus : 0.3 miles
Website: click here
Opening hours: Mon – Thurs: 12.00 – 22.00; Fri – Sat: 12.00 – 23.00; Sun: 12.00 – 18 00.