Kentish Town isn’t exactly lacking in outlets catering to the poultry lover on the go. There’s Nando’s, Chicken Cottage, Sam’s Chicken and, of course Chicken Shop, who all serve up their own take on the classic chook and chips combo. So when a fifth was added to this stretch, we were intrigued.
We finally stopped by Los Pollos early evening the other week; already rather packed with the post-school crowd, our first impression was that the decor is mighty similar to that of another popular chain (lots of wood and chilli motifs), a similarity that crosses over into the menu.
A ‘wings meal’ consisted of six of the flying things, together with chips and pitta. Whilst the wings seemed to have come from some kind of miniature beastie, given that you could clean the meat right off in one fell bite, the marinade was surprisingly tangy, its medium heat delivering the right balance of spice and saltiness. Crispy skin was a very welcome addition too. But the chips were pretty standard, mostly crispy, with a bit of sogginess thrown in for good measure – and served in the requisite silver bucket one expects from casual dining establishments nowadays.
The most curious aspect of the meal was the signature sauce: looking like it should taste of sweet chilli, it was more akin to a raita (carrot-flavoured, we later found out). Bizarre, but moreish for dipping chips in, much to the horror of my dining companion.
Our other choice, a chicken strips salad, was relatively disappointing: shredded lettuce and tomato coupled with a breast less flavourful than the wings, albeit moist. Its saving grace was a mango smoothie, extremely fresh and sweet.
In fact, it was the drinks that were by the most favoured part of our experience: the Oreo milkshake was fought over, its cold creaminess and little bits of biscuit towering head and shoulders above everything else. And a quick perusal of Twitter shows that many others share this love; a solid after school treat, in fact, for sweet-toothed local kids.
Los Pollos is obviously not trying to compete with the likes of Chicken Shop; instead, it’s a simple independent take on Nando’s. Constantly packed with teenagers and young families, it’s obvious customers have clocked how reasonable it is – our entire meal and two drinks came to just over £11. While it’s not something rave about to friends, it still offers a quick, cheap fix of quality fast food. You’re not going to be blown away, but you’re not going to be overly disappointed either.
And the milkshakes… if anything, go for the milkshakes.
Words: Conor Fisk