(Sure this is some sort of Japanese fried chicken taco wanna be thingamabob, but still, this could our saviour when it come to making chicken burgers at home.)
Purveyor: Bird, Shoreditch, London UK
Menu Item: The Nashville Hot
Price: £8 (Fries £3)
Squawk: We came at a slow time only to discover friendly staff, music levels not abnoxious, and a menu that has a lot to offer. A lot. As you’d expect with a name like “Bird” they had more than a few burger options. But what really caught our eye was the waffle burger. Holy cluck it was tempting. But seeing as it was our first visit to this establishment, we decided to go with something a little bit more baseline. But trust us, we’re coming back from the waffle thingamabob. It has to be done.
Since we noshed on the Nashville Hot burger, let’s start with the heat options. Bird’s house hot sauce was on point – vinagery and tart with just a tinge of heat. We could’ve handled more, but it’s nice to see that generally speaking, they got this correct. The “Nashville” sauce that comes pre-loaded on this particular variation, however, has a lot of heat, which we loved and were surprised by. And as it turns out, we didn’t really need the Texas Pete wanna be, because the sauce on the burger gave us everything we wanted, and more. Speaking of which, for the first time ever we saw Japanese chili pepper on the table, which was an interesting, and nice surprise.
The pickles are fantastic, but they dropped the ball a little bit with the bun; to dry, too sweet, too big and fluffy, but if you consider that the “bird” in this place is the hero, then the perhaps the bun is more of a frame for the work of art inside. Perfectly cooked, nice crunch without the oil overload. And we love the option to add double meat even if we didn’t take advantage. (Our pants are already too tight).
We opted for the £3 chips and asked for a side off very nice Buttermilk Ranch (30p) for dipping, which was a good call if we can say so ourselves. We also enjoyed good presentation and branding throughout the establishment and received the best service we’ve had in a London eatery in ages.
Overall they’ve made solid choices here and paid attention to detail. And even though we haven’t tried it yet, they get bonus points for the waffle burger. We saw one get served and it’s outrageous. And necessary. Lord help us all.
Buaawk: It’s not their fault they’re a chain, and some some of the homeliness and vibe gets industrialised out of the place. It’s not overly clinical, but you do know you’re not in a Mom & Pop and you get the feeling the kitchen is playing by a industrial kitchen tested playbook, however good it may be. Also, what we said above about the bun.
Purveyor: Mother Clucker Food Truck, London UK
Menu Item: Cluckwich
Price: £9 (£10 w cheese)
Squawk: This is a fantastic looking food truck painted to look like a military vehicle, but is actually what appears to be an old ambulance. We randomly stumbled across this unit in the back streets of Shoreditch, and given the unique branding and etymological attitude, they felt like kindred spirits. Even though we were actually looking for a place to enjoy a late breakfast, we jumped at the chance to try their chicken burger. While we waited in line we overheard several conversations about this rig, and the consensus amongst them all was that this was one of the best chicken sandwiches in all of Londontown. In fact, according to our eavesdropping, they won “food truck of the year” recently. This is unverified as of this point in time, all we can tell you about is the chicken burger and experience we had.
First unusual thing we noticed was this one comes served on Texas Toast, which is really just white bread slices with some spices sprinkled carefully on top. Inside there is pickled peppers, iceberg lettuce, and a subtle lime mayo. We opted for cheese, obviously, which added an essential element although it wasn’t melted and seemed tossed on as more of an afterthought. Meat-wise they are very generous with the chicken thighs made with a nice crunch yielding to soft tender white meat. Their hot sauce had a nice heat and the pickled peppers gave it a nice bit of zing as well. Overall this one has the right balance of crispiness, moisture, and flavor for a really nice mouth feel and structural integrity.
Buaawk: Service, as expected in London was terrible, but these guys took it to another level. The attitude from the two overworked staff was almost as palpable as the food. With only 5 people in line in front of us it still took over 40 minutes to get our food. So, was it worth the wait and blatant disdain for customers? Sort of. One thing is for sure, they could’ve scored higher if it weren’t for that long, long wait and uncalled for surly attitude. As someone once said, it’s not enough to just be good at what you do, you have to be nice.
Purveyor: Cook & Archies, Surry Hills, NSW Australia
Menu Item: Southern Fried Chicken Burger
Price: $19 AUD
Squawk: There’s a lot to love about this burger and Chef gets bonus points for being ballsy enough to put a pineapple slice on it and have it work. To most of us here at Holy-Cluck pineapple seems like the sort of thing you should just pull out before your first bite (and it was hard for us not to), but when combined with the crunchy chicken and tartness of the fermented cabbage and green apple slaw, it all comes together in a truly original – and delicious – way. The combos including the smoky mayo and jalapeños are perfectly balanced, high quality and unexpected, providing a good mix of textures and flavours without any off-putting mouth feel. Good sweet potato chips too, although the portion was small.
Buaawk: Somebody’s never been to “The South” coz this ain’t even close to how they do fried chicken down there. While we enjoyed the thin, crunchy pieces, any connoisseur would agree the sandwich doesn’t deliver what the menu promises. All of us felt the burger was too small in both diameter and height for $19 and some of us felt that despite all the interesting and well paired ingredients, it was a bit dry and the bread roll too thick in relation to what was inside it.