As it turns out, every Hipster and his experimental haircut are taking their creepers south and rooting for Tooting. Why? Aside from the comical name, being home to the largest pool in the UK and plenty of leafy green space, there’s an abundance of places to drink, dance and, most importantly, dine.
Up until recently, Tooting Broadway was family run shops and BYOB restaurants – kind of like East London pre artisanal coffee shops and inflated housing prices. Chicken Shop is one of the many new eateries gentrifying the space. The not-so-new outpost from Soho House have the drinking, dining (and probably dancing on the right night), very much covered. It’s a no-bookings, exposed brickwork, menu on the wall environment, at the center of which is a giant rack of rotating chickens spinning over smoky hot coals.
The menu is wonderfully simple – a whole, half or quarter spit-roast chicken, crinkle cut chips, coleslaw, corn on the cob and butter lettuce and avocado salad as sides. I order the lot. Wine comes in three sizes: glass, small jug or large jug, and three types: house, decent, or good.
The chicken arrives before I’ve so much as examined the two different sauces – smoky and spicy. It’s been jointed down to the bone (thank god) and is absolutely delicious. Its skin is sticky and charred, slathered in salty, herby juices. The crinkle fries are crispy and come with garlic mayo and ketchup whilst corn on the cob arrives with a little jug of melted garlic butter. How did they know?? The coleslaw is crunchy and dense and the avocado salad, soft and creamy with a tangy mustardy dressing.
The sticky genre continues well into pudding with the three choices all suitably hearty. I choose a deep filled apple pie which arrives at the table in a family sized dish and is served up according to hunger. It’s ALL about the apple pie, which was spiced, juicy and surrounded by the perfect crumbly crust. My companion had a brownie which was served warm and packed full of macadamia nuts.
I struggled to find anything wrong with Chicken Shop. Service was attentive and quick, the food was incredible and the wine was cold. Sure, I could visit the Kentish Town or Whitechapel branches, but when I spied the iconic Indian restaurant and super trendy ‘The Little Bar’ on my way home, I realized that Tooting is quite the culinary superstar. In other words, I’ll be going back, and soon. Basically, if you still think Shoreditch is cool, chances are, you’re probably not, so get on the Northern Line and take a trip down South.
Chicken Shop, 141 Tooting High Street, SW17 0SY