THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: Holy Birds, Liverpool Street

TMM was meant to visit The Holy Birds in January, at the nadir of a dry January and in the gloom of a post-Christmas health drive. For one reason or another, we were unable to dine on that occasion, and as a result spent a delightful evening downstairs in the Mule Bar. There, we sampled the ample and accomplished cocktail menu (more on that anon), and tore through the Bar Snacks menu, which boasted buttermilk chicken and duck sausage rolls as particular highlights.

Holy Birds

You might guess from the name on the door, and if you miss this then the menu confirms it, The Holy Birds is indeed a destination for poultry. What isn’t so obvious until you step into the restaurant, but certainly makes an impact when you do, is the 1960s Danish design from which founders Gerry and Jon Calabrese have taken inspiration to create an eye-catching, individual look which conveys confidence, style and more than a hint of fun.

The menu also offers plenty of opportunity for a gamier dining experience, with pigeon, grouse and guinea fowl dishes to choose from, but we opted for a couple of half chickens, one drenched in garlic & herb, the other in paprika, served simply with chips and gravy.

Roast chicken

The chicken was good quality, well cooked and coloured, and while the paprika could have done with more heat, the garlic & herb iteration was standout. The chips were acceptably crispy and seasoned but it was a side of mushrooms roasted in herbs and chicken stock that packed a meatier punch than their humble billing betrayed. Stellar stuff, we agreed we would return for those and the shirred hen’s egg starter (think poached eggs in a tub of béchamel, blue cheese and spinach with sourdough to dip) alone.

Dessert went one for two. The “baked”Alaska was finished with a blow torch at the table, arguably pushing the definition of baked, and definitely a case of theatre over taste. The redeeming member of the pud portion was a “parkin” (Scottish ginger cake) that once the extra requested toffee sauce arrived, was as soft and rich as you might hope to imagine.

holy birds cocktails

Drinks, compiled by Salvatore Calabrese, legendary bartender and father to Gerry and Jon, included the well-balanced and fun-to-say-quickly Little Italy, picked from the extensive Negroni menu, the minty, creamy Silk Stocking (think After Eights meet Irish Coffee) and a refreshing and light Sloe Gin Fizz.

The staff who served us were lovely, managing the spacious and airy dining space with the minimum of fuss, and although a few plates were underwhelming, we left feeling satisfied. Holy Birds isn’t cheep, but if feather you’re in the neighbourhood, you’d do worse than to wing your way over for a bite.

More information about Holy Birds here.

Written by James Bomford.

Forza Win Spring Chickens, Peckham

It’s fun discovering great things on your doorstep and in Peckham it happens most weekends. A few weeks ago, with a group of friends, I found a foodie event unlike any other…

Forza Win aims to create “awesome Italian cuisine using seasonal British ingredients”. The company has been around for a few years, touring London using disused but atmospheric spaces and serving up flavoursome seasonal food. The pop-ups have a celebratory vibe, with long communal tables and everyone together in one sitting. The banquets are accompanied by organic wines, flavoursome cocktails and a soundtrack of lively music. The mood is convivial as fellow diners fight over the sharing plates and bond over a love of good grub!

Last month the team came back to their Peckham with a new concept: Spring Chickens. For £35 a head you will get a five course feast, featuring the ‘100 day chicken’.

All produce is sourced from the UK and is cooked over wood, to accentuate the flavour. I was impressed with the venue, which has been transformed into a stylish ‘industrial’ dining room. We huddled on the benches, sipping our blood orange Bellinis and anticipating the meal ahead.

The dishes were rustic and simple with bold flavours made from the finest ingredients. Sizzling chickens were delivered systematically round the room, tender with a crispy skin and served with soft roast new potatoes. Silence fell over our group as we gorged on the feast.

Forza Win is a Peckham pop-up not to miss, the best of British, cooked to perfection and served up with a smile. And now every Wednesday they are offering a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine for £10. You don’t need a ticket, just turn up and eat.

Continues until Saturday 23 May. More information and book tickets here.

Clockjack Oven, Soho

Rotisserie Chicken is a staple in European supermarkets and is a familiar favourite from my family holidays in the South of France. Here in the UK it seems to be an almost exotic method of cooking chicken, but Clockjack Oven is beginning to spread the word, and who knows it could be the new fast food fad.

Clockjack Oven pride themselves on offering the best rotisserie chicken, made from top free range chicken and lovingly prepared with a secret marinade. The menu is centred around the roast chickens but also offers a range of salads, sides and burgers.

Rotisserie chicken is served whole or as servings of three or four pieces, depending on your hunger. The meat was tender and tasty though I felt it needed a crispier skin to add more texture and flavour. Sauces are all made in-house: ranch, BBQ, chilli or gravy are all available… we chose the creamy garlicky ranch sauce.

Herb bites were a nice accompaniment but tasted quite like ready made stuffing, made with onion and crispy sage. Chicken bites were delish marinated in buttermilk and lightly fried, they are an addictive bite-size snack. The Caesar Salad was very fresh, but the dressing was too watery which sadly wilted the lettuce slightly, and double cooked chips were nothing special.

To finish the meal we really enjoyed the special dessert of the day, a warm, rich brownie. Soft and gooey it was divine, and particularly indulgent with the contrasting Cornish clotted cream ice-cream!

Located on the edge of Soho, Clockjack Oven is great for tourists wanting a quick tasty meal, though I think this restaurant has a little way to go before their chicken is unbeatable.

For more information, see here.