Like any self-inflated, hipsterish snob, I will violently oppose visiting a chain restaurant on just about every occasion. Nando’s, Pizza Express, Wagamamas – to me, these are the dining rooms of desperation, and should only be resorted to if the only alternative is cannibalism. (And even then, cannibalism should be given a fair amount of consideration).
Steak on the other hand, is a bit more easy-going, and, I guess in the traditional sense, a bit more “normal”. She doesn’t mind an occasional cheap and cheerful meal at a popular chain, and on most occasions, I will unashamedly deny her of the opportunity. Sometimes however, I am willing to relent or come to a compromise, and when, two weeks ago, she brazenly suggested visiting Nando’s for dinner, I counter-suggested the more hipsterish “Chicken Shop” chain instead.
After making our way to the Whitechapel branch, I cruelly walked her past the glass-fronted Nando’s restaurant that sits a few doors down, and into the rustic, indie Chicken Shop shack. Given the fairly small menu, looking at it served as more of a formality, and we promptly ordered a whole helping of rotisserie chicken.
Two bowls of thick, chunky chicken soon arrived, and each piece proved to be juicy and succulent. The skin in particular boasted the perfect balance between soft and crispy, tearing moreishly in the mouth, whilst providing a delicate crunch. The overnight marinade of herbs and spices had also enriched the chicken to create a set of subtle flavours, and we had no trouble at all in cleaning the chicken off the bone.
Rotisserie chicken (Quarter £5.50 / Half £9.50 / Whole £18)
Alongside a portion of simple and cheerful crinkle cut fries, we had ordered a bowl of coleslaw. Though satisfying for the most part, we both felt that it needed more of a kick – either with an additional sweet or savoury element, or something with a bit of juicy acidity – such as thin slices of apple.
Value For Money: 3.5/5
A quick glance at the menu will reveal that a quarter chicken is priced at £5.50, a half chicken at £9.50, and a whole chicken at £18, whilst sides cost around £4. Our own bill amounted to approximately £24 for two, and, though it may have been a little more costly than everyone’s favourite chicken restaurant next door, we felt that it was still very reasonable, particularly in relation to the quality and calibre of the rotisserie chicken.
Service : 3.5/5
Service is also prompt and courteous, and given the relatively small size of the restaurant, you should have no trouble at all in getting the attention that (you think) you deserve.
Decor / Ambience 3/5
The restaurant itself is tucked away within the confines of an aged and attractive brick building, and boasts a stripped-down, industrial decor. It’s a fairly small and dimly-lit space, and as such, it would be advisable to take only a handful of unattractive friends at any one time. The restaurant can be found a 10 minute walk away from either Whitechapel or Stepney Green station, and pay & display parking is available directly outside.
Undoubtedly, the likes of Nando’s is ingrained into British culture in ways that one cannot imagine. Indeed, if the British public were given the choice to vote between the Queen and peri-peri chicken, we would probably wake up to being a chicken-based republic the very next day. But, whilst many would scoff at the likes of Chicken Shop and stick with what they know, they may very well be missing out.
Sure, Chicken Shop offers nothing more than a small, simplistic menu, comprised of quality, rotisserie chicken that is marinated in but a handful of elements. But, therein lies the appeal. It’s good, wholesome chicken, with flavours that are simultaneously subtle and bold, and for a casual, frill-free meal, it’s certainly worth giving a go.
Halal status: Only the chicken is certified halal. Alcohol is served on the premises.
Address: 27a Mile End Road, London E1 4TP
Telephone: 020 3727 6165