Review: Chicken Shop Kentish Town


The whole chicken arrived already cut up, practical if not beautiful – but oh my! That flavour



So yesterday at 6pm sharp we swanned down the unmarked staircase into a candle-lit 1950s diner interior. It’s Alpine lodge-meets-speakeasy, adorned with enviably knackered industrial pendants. The best seats are at the counter facing the chefs and their rotisserie, but these were all taken, so we sat at a modish formica table. In fact, we preferred the interior to its posher ground floor sibling: it’s appealingly secret, with very flattering lighting, perfect for a date, in fact (them were the days). But be warned: 45 minute waits are standard. Lucky The Vine is across the road.

Chicken Shop’s menu is on a blackboard, but there’s no choice as such. It’s just free-range Norfolk chicken marinated overnight: a quarter, half or whole (£4/£8/£14.50 respectively). Add crinkle cut chips, coleslaw, lettuce and avocado salad, corn on the cob (deliciously buttery) – all around £3-4. There were three of us, so we ordered it all. And our Brixtonian meat-loving friend Louise – an evangelical disciple of Honest Burger – was on hand to dispel any excessive NW5-related prejudice we may have in favour of the place.

The whole chicken arrived already cut up, practical if not beautiful. We squeezed a couple of lemon quarters over it and started tearing the flesh off. As you’d expect, the spit-roast flavour was concentrated in the skin: salty, chargrilled, herby. The meat was admirably moist. Hot and smoky sauces were on hand too, depending on how much kick you want, and a good mayonnaise to dunk the very well-salted chips into. The slaw was creamy (and quite frankly too small between three).

We weren’t going to order dessert, but the waitress pressed an apple pie on us, and at these prices, it seemed rude to argue. She appeared a moment later (service is very, very quick) with a homely pie and kitchen knife in hand, asking us how big a slice we’d like. A mouthful each; and it was tart enough for a non-dessert lover like myself.

What else? The waiting staff, as in Pizza East, were almost intrusively keen – we felt at times pounced on – but we think this will settle down. And they were very sweet. And as with places like Dach & Sons, there’s no wine list – it’s just listed on the board as house, decent or ‘good’. We chose house and were impressed. It’s £16 for a bottle-sized tin jug.

The bill was £61 between three including service. Not bad for a no holds barred pig out, with all the sides, dessert and a couple of jugs of wine. (We really wanted to snap you some food pics, but alas it was just too dark).

And Lou’s thoughts? ‘I adored it,’ she said (and she’s a tricky one), licking her lips as we crossed the road back to The Vine. Her only criticism? The chips were ‘a little over cooked.’ Right.

In fact, we were all in such fine spirits that we swung by Shebeen for a late night negroni. Well, it makes the perfect stop-off when you’re escorting a friend back to the tube.

Words: Stephen Emms

This is box title
Kentishtowner Rating: 8/10. Chicken Shop, ‘Downstairs’, 79 Highgate Road NW5. No bookings. Closed on Sunday & Monday. Open 5-midnight.

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  • Tony McAllister

    I have to agree with everything you say here.
    Was lucky enough to go on Tuesday night and I think that out of the three new places on the site this is the best.
    I am VERY excited that this has opened in KT – it has a ‘no bookings’ policy (which I quite like) – not sure if you can wait inside or it will be a few drinks in The Vine first….

    @mistertonymac

  • Jon Simmons

    Any idea if they do take out?

    Agreed, this is the most exciting of the three new openings.

    • Kentishtowner

      I believe they do takeout, yes. Although the interior is sooo lovely….

  • Jon Simmons

    Will definitely be eating in there soon, but off to Reading Festival later so want to grab something for the journey! Fancy a festival review?

  • KTM

    How long will the 50% off last for? and are kids welcome?

  • Emma

    Re the takeaway question, they are ‘hoping to do takeaway in about a month or so’. So said someone when we rang yesterday. The other half was most displeased, he’d had designs on a takeaway chicken for MONTHS. Guess we’re eating in!

  • Colm

    Food was delicious, even more so when 50% was taken off. I think it would be a tiny bit expensive though at full price. Chicken was almost too juicy if you know what I mean (just about cooked), and seasoned perfectly. The chicken I got was a bit boney, but all in all, damn tasty chicken

  • Dawn

    What has happened to Chicken Shop, its been closed for a few days?

  • Jon Simmons

    Emma, I got take out from there on Thursday evening, but they weren’t taking phone orders, I had to order when I got there. I only had to wait for about 10 minutes though. The chicken was really good, very juicy and tasty and fantastic value at half price. Even at full price it’s reasonably priced in my opinion.

    Dawn – I don’t think they open on Sundays or Mondays.

  • Emma

    Thanks Jon, appreciate the tip. Cheers!

  • Geoffram

    First of all, thanks for the picture at the top of this article. It was so dark down there, I have no idea what the place really looked like. But then I’m not young any more: true, I’ve checked my passport. First thing to say (well, second if you include the lighting comment): this is not the place to go for a romantic date. Not unless you want to shout at each other and finsih your meal in half an hour. But maybe that’s what romance is these days (there he goes aagain mentioning his age). The food comes as soon as the word ‘Send’ is pressed on the ordering computer. And I noticed the order is written on a little pad first before being transferred to that computer. A quaint old-fashioned touch. A quarter of chicken, especially in the low-light levels (enough of the light references, now!) look a bit like giblets on a plate. But they were certainly filling enough for me. 3 hungry souls on the next table ordered a whole one, which would have cost them £14.50. The chicken – of Chicken Shop fame – is delicious. Marinated in herbs overnight, it is juicy and full of flavour. How nice to get fresh corn on the cob, rather than frozen like in the Fast Food shops: will they manage to keep that going throughout the year? My heart sanl when I saw the words ‘Crinke Cut chips’ on the menu. but they too were fresh and double or teble fried. People (well, one person, actually) have described the Coloeslaw as ‘creamy’. For me, that was its downfall. It tasted just like cabbage and cream, as opposed to coleslaw, and if that doesn’t have a recognisable taste, then invent one. But this is nit-picking: this was just the best Chicken and Chips I’ve had for a long time. And, yes, they do take-away, because we had to lug home half the plate of apple pie they served me. Equally delicious. Meal came to £64 with two glasses of champagne and some water. I’ll say this for the Soho House boys and girls. They know their markets and although nothing on this site has ever worked particularly well, I just know this – along with Pizza East upstairs – will be really successful and they’ll have to change the silliness of not opening till 5pm and being closed on Sundays and Mondays.

  • Gorodish

    Finally got round to going this evening. It was exceptional but not wholly in a good way. The astutely chosen, simple food was great – tasty and perfectly cooked. BUT as a windowless basement filled with a lively after work crowd, it was the noisiest restaurant I’ve ever been to. Also we went for a drink and were duly called back when our table was ready, only to see two girls nip in and grab a table unchallenged by the staff. As we were seated our friendly waitress told us there was a one hour turnaround on the table – two hours s not unexpected but one? Service was predictably rushed. Glasses were filled without us asking. We quickly shared a cheese cake and went home for a mint tea to calm down. Won’t be returning.