The London market for the chicken dinner has long been dominated by Nando’s with its grilled bird and variety of sauces. In the past year, a few competitors have emerged but none posed a strong challenge to throne. Chicken Shop was too far away in Kentish Town, Rita’s has temporarily disappeared barring the occasional pop-up, and the street food traders, while delicious, are more targets of opportunity than a reliable dinner spot.
Enter Clockjack Oven, a relatively young rotisserie chicken spot next to Piccadilly Circus which is serving up freshly roasted chicken for a reasonable price. While it’s a few quid more than Nando’s (think c£15pp for a meal), the quality of meat is higher and you get a juicer bird that doesn’t need to be smothered in sauce. I do enjoy a Nando’s once in a while, but it’s not really a spot to impress – Clockjack, however, is.
Around the corner, you have one of my favourite bars in the area: Bar Americain. It’s located below Brassiere Zedel (it’s surprising how big their underground area is!) and boasts a classy yet cosy old world layout with a suitably strong line up of cocktails. Their Old Fashioned and Sazerac are top notch and I hear their sweeter and fruiter cocktails are also wins if that’s more your style.
It’s a bit on the expensive side, but there are plenty of pubs in the area as well for a cheaper pint if you’re feeling a bit skint and wanted a more affordable evening out.
What to eat?
Um, chicken? Clockjack serves up their birds already cut (you can watch them do this in front of the rotisserie oven) into 10 pieces and you can order in portions of 3, 4, or 10 pieces. The split of the chicken makes for easy sharing which is a plus point. The chicken is brined for several hours in a special mix of salt water and various herbs (secret recipe) before being left to dry overnight. It’s then slowly cooked in the rotisserie in full view of the restaurant for around an hour before being chopped up and served immediately. This makes for a tender bird, but one a bit light on flavour beyond “chicken”.
Luckily, they have a couple of stellar sauces to a bit of bite to your clucker. My favourite is the spicy sauce which has gained a decent amount of heat from the first time I tried it. My North American dining companions were more into the Ranch (real Ranch, not the salad cream stuff you get here) but I prefer things with a bite to it.
The sides and other chicken items are also winners. I’d highly suggest getting the wings and chicken bites. Both are succulent mouthfuls of meat with the wings’ BBQ glaze being very moreish and the crunchy bits of chicken a tasty snack. In fact, I could probably make a meal of those two things alone. The chips were extra crispy and made a good addition to the chicken.
Clockjack has a fairly decent selection of wines and beers to choose from. You aren’t going to find a rare bottle but you will find some very drinkable and affordable options. There are a range of liquors too, but think more well drinks rather than fancy cocktails – it’s just not that sorta place.
The reds we tried were young and juicy – great options for a white meat meal. And of course a pint of London Pride goes down a treat at pretty much any time.
Worth the dosh?
It’s time for the Nando’s test: namely would I eat here or head down the road to Nando’s instead? Given the price isn’t much more than a meal at Nando’s and the quality of meat seems higher, I’ll take Clockjack Oven if I’m in the area. But while it’s good, it’s not that good and any degree of trek will probably end up with Nando’s being the winner.
Find Clockjack Oven here
14 Denman Street
London, W1D 7HJ
020 7287 5111