Bird is one of the latest entrants capitalizing on the fried chicken craze that’s building up in the capital. Sure, we’re had some pretty decent chicken spots holding down the fort, but it’s only the last 6 months or so that the tempo of new openings has really built up. Taking over the space on Kingsland road from a couple of largely defunct bars, Bird has a modern theme with exposed brick and shiny metal chairs that are far more comfortable than you’d expect. The staff are friendly and attentive with a good understanding of the menu. It does seem that there are a few kinks to still be worked out as one of the sides, the corn pudding, has apparently been taken off the menu despite Bird being open for barely a week. The chicken, though, is fantastic.
Food: ★★★★☆ Service: ★★★★☆ Atmosphere: ★★☆☆☆ Value: ★★★★☆ Overall: ★★★★☆
Pick a direction, throw a rock, and you’ll hit about a dozen bars (and probably get a bill for a broken window, so don’t throw anything please). That being said, my favorite hidden gem is Looking Glass Cocktail Club which is just around the corner on Hackney Road. Despite the fantastic cocktails the bartenders here have created, it seems to have managed to stay hidden from the crowds so you can usually be assured of a spot and quick service. Alternatively, you can always pop into Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes (it’s a cocktail bar, not a shop) and get their black cherry old fashioned or grab a beer and some foosball time at Bar Kick down the street.
What to eat?
Hopefully, you are here for the chicken. Bird has a few options with the main bird dishes being fried chicken (available in 2 or 4 pieces, or the whole bird) and wings (2, 4, 8, 12, or 24 pieces) with a handful of glazes and dips. There are also a couple American style salads and sandwiches – most notable the fried chicken and waffle burger. We opted for a whole bird with a sweet and spicy Korean Gochujang glaze plus a half dozen wings in each of the honey-ginger and buffalo sauce glazes. Oh, and that chicken and waffle burger of course.
The wings are cooked well with very crispy skin and juicy meat and the honey-ginger glaze was absolutely delicious being both sweet and spicy in just the right balance. The buffalo sauce was adequate but lacked both the heat and tangy bite I’d associate with a true buffalo hot wing – this was rather mild although kudos to Bird for sourcing some proper blue cheese dip.
We moved onto the full bird (we got it mixed but you can opt for white or dark meat) which is a pretty hefty amount of chicken for £24. It’s enough to feed 4 people – even with our bottomless pit of a friend – and you can mix the glazes if you wish. We went with the gochujang sauce which was bold, spicy, and rich – and excellent option for fried chicken. As with the wings, the execution was flawless with ridiculously crispy skin and succulent flesh. It’s a tough call, but I think the chicken edged out Clutch to be my favorite fried chicken in the city.
And if the chicken alone wasn’t enough, Bird won me over with the chicken and waffle burger. It’s pretty much exactly how it sounds with a massive fried chicken breast being sandwiched between two halves of a cheddar and onion waffle. Plus they add bacon and maple syrup to really ensure you get a full taste of all that is good in the world. Sure, it’s not perfect and I’d have preferred the waffle to have a bit of crunch, but damn that thing is good. It’s incredibly filling and I doubt I’d want to have more than half of it in one go, but for £13 it’s an excellent value proposition. Sides were hit and miss with the Korean cucumber salad being nicely pickled white the bowl of fries were thin, stringy, and largely disappointing. I’d love to see some mash and gravy on there as well and maybe some kimchi, Bird, if you’re going to stick with the Southern US/Korean hybrid approach.
Desserts were meh with the doughnuts being dry and stale despite claims they were freshly fried and the ice cream sundae collapsing on itself.
How about a drink?
The beer menu is a small collection of microbrews with the token Korean (Hite) and American (Susie) thrown into the mix. The Hite was a very light lager which paired well with the food in that it washed down the heat but didn’t overpower any of the flavors. I quite liked the Crate IPA also on offer with great hoppy notes that could stand up to the potency of the gochujang.
You have a few non-alcoholic drinks as well and price-wise the drinks are reasonably at around £3-5/item. If only they had some shakes… Worth the dosh? For the chicken, most definitely. I’d happily come back for another fried chicken feast and you could feed four people for around £10-15pp quite easily. I’d pass on the desserts which seem overpriced and probably the fries as well. But you’re not coming to Bird for quality fries, you’re coming for a bird that’s fried to perfection and enhanced with some flavorful sauces. And that my friends, is what Bird is all about.
Find Bird here