Everybody’s heard about the bird. Southern fried chicken is certainly the word (or words) on everybody’s lips on the hunt for comfort food. The dirty burger of 2016, some claim it’s all got a bit out of control, but when I heard stories of a new chicken joint in Spitalfields, I could barely contain my excitement.
Absurd Bird isn’t your average chicken joint. An extensive wine and cocktail list, concocted by the talented in house mixologist, make it a nice alternative from London’s stuffy dinner destinations. The birds are ethically sourced and reared for 50% longer than most free range chickens, producing some of the biggest birds I’ve ever seen served on a table. As the name would suggest, there is an absurd amount of chicken on the menu; pun fully intended. Six types of wings, yes six, come in varying portions from small to obnoxious, and that’s all before you get to your choice of eight different ways to devour the bird.
Quite ironically, my vegetarian friend Paige joined me at Absurd Bird, and she was almost as spoiled for choice. Its not all about that bird (about that bird, about that bird, no trouble…sorry.) We took a few recommendations from the amiable staff, trying all the ‘smallish plates’, of which the spinach and artichoke dip was easily the best, so good that we kept ahold of the dish throughout the meal.
Despite my firm suggestion of the quinoa burger, Paige wolfed down the salad version before I even had chance to ask how it was. Served with pomegranate, coriander, tomato and a lemon vinaigrette, it was certainly a fresh plate of food. It makes for an excellent choice for the health conscious diner, chicken can be added for a little extra. Meanwhile I gorged myself on the bird.
I also had a quarter of Big Mama’s Favourite Southern style smoked chicken. Brined for 25 hours before being rolled in their secret mix of flour and spices, the chicken was inexorably tender and succulent. Unfortunately the spices didn’t hold their own, and the bird was rendered rather bland. I felt obliged to order some wings, the garlic parmesan and lemon dressing was nothing short of orgasmic. I’m not even sorry. And they were fucking enormous! Despite how good they were, I was glad I’d ordered three rather than eight.
The sides, cheekily entitled “slightly on the side”, could almost be dishes themselves. Reading the words “sweet potato” and “marshmallows” in the same sentence got us far too excited, but sadly the sides didn’t quite deliver. The surprise inclusion of cinnamon bullied the poor potatoes into submission. Partnered with a mammoth blanket of marshmallows, this was more a dessert than a side.
We also eagerly ordered the jalapeño mac and cheese, my now renowned love of macaroni reared its head once again, but much to our shared dismay it was instantly forgettable and not in the least bit cheesy or spicy. This left me not only disappointed but a little bit annoyed, like they’d committed culinary sacrilege against me.
As we made our way back through Spitalfields Market, we were both left a little bemused by Absurd Bird. I suppose that’s the danger of somewhere being recommended so highly, it’s like an over-hyped album (Kanye anyone?); it had it’s moments of brilliance, but got a little lost along the way. I found myself longing for the comforts of KFC, which never disappointed my expectations. This bird, wasn’t the word for me.
Absurd Bird, 54 Commercial Street, E1 6LT
Words by HQ