Nick Buglione gets down and dirty at Chicken Liquor
Mind or body? Less a debate on religious dualism, more the conflicting worlds of proudly unclean eating and its rather prim “clean” eating cousin.
No-one who flutters into Chicken Liquor should be under any illusions, this is not alfafa sprouts and broccoli, this is indulgent, artery-challenging hedonism. Tonight, I am here for my mind. My body can catch up later.
Welcome to a session of dirty pop up lo-fi shack attack Americana from the poster boys of south London street food van to globally aspiring gastro empire.
That’s Meatliquor’s Scott Collins and Yianni Papoutsis. Chicken Liquor is their first feathered foray away from their semi-legendary burgers.
Funky shack-style diner, bar stools, graffiti art, funky formica and distressed neon lighting. Lively (and nice) staff with tattoos and distressed trucker caps, Deliveroo guys in and out.
All very modern, all very now. With a simple, focused menu, apart from a halloumi burger for disorientated vegetarians, this is an exclusively fowl celebration. Ain’t nobody here but us chickens.
Bringing a rebooted chicken shop to one of London’s chicken capitals means one thing: much like a cover version, you have to do better than the original. I’m not saying it is the best chicken in Brixton, as I haven’t eaten everywhere (yet!) but as an immersive chicken experience with quality cocktails Chicken Liquor pulls that off. And does so on the quality of the bird and some interesting inventive sides and trimmings – how about tobacco onions or a very messy hot mess – hash browns, blue cheese, jalapenos, hot sauce and pickles?
Alongside the chicken are craft beers, cream sodas, root beers, sexy cocktails and alco-shakes (it’s a school night so passed on a Jägermeister, Jack Daniels or White Russian milkshake).
But we did try a Market Row Fizz – Grey Goose pear vodka with lemon strawberry and bubbles and a Donkey Crunch – vodka, ginger syrup, ginger beer and absinthe.
They know their cocktail making here and also offer a “sour bar” where you can construct your perfect sour. I’m a sucker for a whiskey sour, school night or no school night.
From a choice of wings (or boneless bites) we went for spicy kickboxing Korean (double deep fried with daikon and fermented chilli) and Chicken Shop (spicy classic deep south coating and BBQ sauce). Accompaniment was mac & cheese cubist style – mac & cheese chunks deep fried in breadcrumbs with a marinara sauce. Naughty but nice.
With barely justifiable bravado I chose the Tower Block (ironic reference to the Colonel?), a mini-mountain of chicken fillet in house coating, cheese, jalapenos, slaw, onions, Russian dressing and a hash brown.
Mrs B was altogether more restrained with her Chicken Parma – a comparative hillock of chicken, serrano ham, molten mozzarella, marinara sauce and parmesan. Both £8.75.
That’s pricey if you are thinking Morleys and KFC, not when it’s a chicken burger elevated to a higher plateau than the dubious drunken alternative to a late night kebab.
If you ate here every night of your life, you might need to see a cardiac specialist – otherwise Chicken Liquor isn’t just hipster trimmings, it’s damn good chicken with some interesting twists.
If you can eat a dessert after that, you’re a better man (or woman) than I.
12 Market Row SW9 8PR | chickenliquor.co.uk | 020 7274 0939 | @chickenliquorUK