There have been many, many sh*te things to moan about in terms of lockdown and all being cooped up inside with no place to go, not least the likely dreadful long term impact it is going to have on our hospitality industry (something very close to my heart/ stomach).
Notwithstanding this (hopefully unwarranted) sense of impending doom on my part, one of the good things to come out of lockdown has been the ingenuity showed by the indie sector. How quickly have the likes of Curado Bar, Dusty Knuckle, Grady Atkins, Kerakan Karavan, Thomas by Tom Simmons and Heaney’s (to name but a few) adapted to this potentially business breaking pandemic. I take my hat off to these people I really do.
The resulting little food and drink gems born out of such ingenuity have helped to keep me going through lockdown that is for sure.
One such gem looked to be the fried chicken offering I saw advertised on Twitter from Cardiff indie stalwart Mr. Croquewich, which certainly seemed to offer a perfect antidote to my rather melancholy (food) fugg as the lockdown lasted for what felt like forever (thankfully an end to it has finally hoving slowly and tentatively into view).
Adding other quivers to their cheese wrangling bow, the people behind Mr. Croquewich do home delivery bistro meals (my first lockdown blog post) and now fried chicken sandwiches/burgers. The latter will feature at Mr. Croquewich’s pitch at the much awaited (and for good reason – what a line up they have manage to put together) Goodsheds in Barry.
Who in their right mind doesn’t love fried chicken? Ok what non veggie in their right mind doesn’t… hang on what non pescatarian in their right mind…. Blimey this could take a while, so let’s just say most people love (good) fried chicken.
There is something wonderfully dirty (in a good way) about getting your chops around a piece of succulent chicken encased in a crisp coating.
I am not talking KFC, which to be fair has a decent coating but what it covers is a sorry excuse for a chicken (just my opinion), but more the glorious stuff put out by the Chick’N’Sours of this world.
According to Mr. Croquewich, through an extensive testing process they have perfected the parmesan crust on their fried chicken and the menu certainly looked enticing.
Whilst rather liking the sound of both the Indian Summer and the El Pollo Picante, I am a sucker for a good caesar salad and the dressing is the key. When it is good its a royal flush, when it is bad you may as well cut out the middle man and just flush it.
Obviously on this basis the main order I put in was their “Caesar’s Palace” burger (£9), with a lovely sounding combo of parmesan crusted, brined, chicken thigh (always a thigh rather than a breast man me), bacon and caesar dressing. To this I added dirty fries and Glamorgan bon bons (because I am a pig).
It was cooked to order with me arriving 5 mins early (a time is chosen/ allocated on putting in your order) at The Bridge Studios (which allowed for a chinwag as to the exciting Goodsheds plans) and was then all bagged up nicely for me to take away.
The packaging all worked well in keeping the food hot (although I should point out I live less than a 5 minute drive from the pick up point).
The main event Caesar’s Palace was a fine looking ediface (and a big ole beast)
Taking the lid off there was a, beard penetratingly, generous slathering of quality caesar dressing, crispy smoked bacon and a fine looking thigh encased by a rather “hot” 500+ denier parmesan coating.
The coating has a good hit of parmesan and had retained a very pleasing crunch.
Inside the chicken had an excellent flavour and was really juicy from the brining. The parmesan coating, crisp smoky bacon, and crunchy lettuce made for a nice textural contrast to the soft (not pappy) bun and succulent chicken.
The caesar dressing with bang on, with the saltiness of the cheese and anchovies operating as a nice counterpoint to the richness of the emulsion.
All in all a very good fried chicken sandwich.
On the sides front, I went large (rude not to) and ordered the “Make it dirty” fries.
and the Glamorgan bon bons.
The retro crinkly fries, had retained both their heat and a good level of crispiness.
The dirty element was in the form of a pungent truffle infused aïoli and a dusting of parmesan. Whilst very nice on their own, I think with the ceasar dressing it was a bit richness overkill for me. Over ordering is a perennial problem with me.
Better I suspect with the chilli loaded “El Pollo Picante” or the lighter “Indian Summer” and quantity wise there were easily enough of these to share between two.
The Glamorgan bon bons were as good as I remember from my foray into Mr. Croquewich’s bisto offering at the start of lockdown. Crispy on the outside with a gooey, cheese to the max, filling and just a touch of bite from the leeks
Great with the sweet chilli dip accompaniment.
Huge portions led to near food coma on my part in finishing this lot.
My sister commented on an Insta post of the food that it was a lot for two people. She was suitably aghast when I revealed it was all just for me!
On the booze front, I fancied a beer and the sourness of plums pickled in brine from this Boshi Wild Ale by Yonder Brewing & Blending worked an absolute treat.
Really refreshing beer, it cut the richness of the meal beautifully.
If you are looking to drink wine, the ceasar dressing needs something with a fair amount of acidity to it.
The conventional pairing would be an old World Sauvignon Blanc – like this Poully Fumé
I, personal would go a bit more left field and my choice would be a New World riesling
I think the fresh, limey, acidity of this Australian riesling would work a treat
Another fine option could be an amontillado, either from the sherry triangle or the less known (but equally as good) Montilla Moriles DO.
In terms of these wines there is an old saying of “lf it swims pair it with a manzanilla or fino, if it fly pair it with an amontillado and if it walks pair it with an oloroso”. In short sherries and MM wines go with everything.
On this basis, with chicken it would be an amontillado
and this Montilla Moriles one from Bodegas Delgado (fine piece of work by Google on their website in translating Oloroso to Smelly – not selling it guys 😁) is a corker of a wine. Rich and spicy, whilst retaining a decent level of acidity, it is gloriously nutty stuff.
I picked up a bottle of it in Seville a couple of years ago for a mere €11, which had to be one of the best wine bargain I have ever had. Personally think it would be great with fried chicken.
Mr. Croquewich is not doing this takeaway option from their current Bridge Studio base going foward,
but if this is a foretaste of what will be on offer when they set up shop at the Goodsheds in Barry (come August – Covid 19 permitting) then it is going to be the absolute business.
So many good reasons to be excited about the Goodsheds project and Mr. Croquewich being there is certainly one of them.
Address: Goodsheds, Hood Street, Barry, CF63 2ZA.
Keep an eye of the website and the @loft&co twitter feed for updates regarding the opening date.