Nick Buglione discovers fowl play and a lot of waffle at Bird.
Hot on the heels of Other Side Fried, and a while back Thunderbird, another midi-chicken chain has flown into Brixton’s coop.
Perched next door to a betting shop in the heart of market Brixton, Bird brings the deep-fried chicken, with a slightly offbeat twist. Waffles. You’ve got to have a USP right? Remember Dip N Flip?
Armed with a vegetarian and something of a fried chicken aficionado, we flew into an (other) orange kitsch branded, stripped back, post-hipster minimalist joint, more stripped, more DIY than the Bird I have been to on the way to Arsenal matches, but this is Brixton not Islington.
Bigger menu than OSF around the corner, Bird does the whole motherload – nu-wave chicken burgers in various shapes and sizes, wings, drums, skillets of dirty fries, hot sauces, cocktails, shakes and, of course, waffles. Interestingly their vegan burger is not one of the new-fangled faux-Chicken substitute jobs but beetroot based.
So, while watching late afternoon, early evening Brixton wander past the window, still an endearingly eclectic, entertaining vignette of market traders, loafers, the occasional lost soul and busy bees scurrying (it will be a pity if they sanitise this street “life” away), we go for Nashville Hot Chicken and waffles, the Royale chicken burger and the Vegan Beet burger. With fries and chicken gravy dip.
You will not be leaving empty. Big. Bird. Clearly it is pricier than Morleys (what isn’t?) and KFC, but this is rebooted, upgraded fried chicken and comes in big packages. Burgers start at £7.50, chicken and waffles £12.
So what of chicken and waffles? My Nashville Hot rendition, boneless thigh, a damn hot spicy sauce, buttermilk ranch and pickles atop a griddled savoury waffle is a curious combo. Call me old fashioned but on return, I’ll probably grab a burger. The chicken is great though, crunchy crispy batter round excellently tender buttermilk chicken, a piquant hot chilli sauce and scattered gherkins. This is dirty food, napkins and post dining wipes required. The waffle is, for me, just a bit irrelevant although they do a sweet-tinged maple syrup and cheese version that sounds interesting.
Next door, our vegetarian is pretty impressed with the beet burger, deep-fried beetroot patty with guacamole, chilli slaw and vegan mayo (in vegan bap). The patty is nice and moist, the slaw brings a nice overlay to the deep frying, and it looks nice and colourful for those who dine via their Instagram filters.
The Royale is a minor triumph. Big steaming crispy thigh, “Royale” sauce, iceberg, shallots and pickles. In a non-”fancy” brioche bap with fries and dips – Bird do practically every dip and sauce imaginable – from Korean to jerk to BBQ to our old new friend Nashville Hot.
Fries are pretty standard and I’m liking the chicken gravy dip.
As they know already from their other branches, this is a successful proposition – undemanding, entirely comforting “fast” food upgraded. Grown-up, quality fried chicken.
For me it’s a toss-up between OSF and Bird, but Bird is more of a restaurant proposition (despite the quasi DIY trimmings) with more to choose from. This Bird will probably fly. If you like waffles, they do them too.
34-36 Electric Avenue, SW9 8JT | 020 8194 7054 | birdrestaurants.com | @birdrestaurant