Perhaps in response to the wellness trend, we’ve been riding a wave of reinvented foods that make no bones about being decadently, defiantly bad for you. Think burgers bedecked with anything from mac ’n’ cheese to bacon Frazzles, French fries piled high with pulled pork and gooey melted cheese, and pastries and desserts merged to create heart-stopping hybrids such as cronuts and cookie shots.
As part of this, what you might call post-night-out food, usually relegated to the shame-filled small hours, has been dressed up and dragged blinking into respectable food establishments all over the capital. Kebabs have had a posh-over, as have fish and chips and fried chicken.
The kernel’s popcorn bites, Morley’s Spicy M Wings and Chicken Cottage’s fillet burger are no longer the heights a hen can hope to attain. And the popularity of the YouTube series The Pengest Munch, in which local establishments receive a real dressing down, is only proof that fried chicken is firmly in the spotlight.
Whether served on waffles dripping with maple syrup, dunked unapologetically in blue cheese sauce or served with zingy cocktails, the breaded snack has had a rethink and gotten very, very good. Here’s where to get your fried chicken fix in London.
Chick ’n’ Sours
Chick ’n’ Sours takes its food very seriously. A mere glance at the menu, taking in its inspired pairings, will tell you that. Even the accompaniments go above and beyond - aside from the prerequisite fries, there’s intriguing-sounding smacked cucumbers and green ’slaw with ginger miso mayo.
Chick 'n' Sours, 1a Earlham Street, Seven Dials, WC2H 9LL, chicknsours.co.uk
You can’t truly consider yourself a fried chicken and waffle fan until you’ve visited Bird – it’s elevated this delicious concept to extravagant art. With boneless thighs, bacon, cheese, mayo, barbecue sauce, hot sauce and maple syrup sandwiched between two freshly griddled slices of golden goodness, its waffle burger has to be eaten to be understood. Luckily the brand has recently opened a fourth location at Westfield Stratford City, making it even easier to enjoy.
Bird, Westfield Stratford City, E20 1ES, birdrestaurants.com
After blazing a tasty trail at Broadway Market, Butchies set up more permanent shop in Camden. But it remains loyal to its street food roots and can still be found in East London on Saturdays. At the Camden Hatch, the free-range chicken is cooked in a pressure fryer to make it extra juicy. And, there’s even something for veggies too - a halloumi option with guacamole and smoked chilli mayo.
Butchies, Unit 314, Stables Market, Camden, NW1 8AH, butchies.co.uk
This particular fried chicken spot isn’t shy about owing a lot to our cousins across the pond. Not only does it dish up its particular brand of deliciousness from a converted US Army ambulance (the chicken really does have healing powers), the meat is tea-brined and buttermilk-marinated in authentic Southern States’ style.
The Truck, The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL, motherclucker.co.uk
Offering a rather more home-grown take on the classic is The Other Side, which proffers its wares from a converted British ambulance. Chicken comes double-breaded in a secret recipe and topped with honey butter smoked for four hours. Not even the bun escapes attention to detail – forget brioche, think potato bread – with all sandwiches topped with crispy sweet cure bacon and baby cucumber pickles.
Pop Brixton, 49 Brixton Station Road, SW9 8PQ, othersidefried.com
Head to the recently-opened branch of Bird at Westfield Stratford City to satisfy your fried chicken cravings. Conveniently located at the heart of the centre, it’s the perfect shopping stop-off. For a full list of restaurants and stores see westfield.com/uk