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.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: The Parlour’s Peroni Bar pop-up, Canary Wharf

Before last week, I would not have said Canary Wharf was a staple destination in TMM’s London repertoire. Well from now on if I find myself out that far East this summer I know where I’ll be visiting.

The Parlour‘s popup Peroni bar has more going for it than plosive alliteration. It occupies a corner of Canada Square, which represents a pocket of comfort and relaxation in a slightly stiff part of London often dominated by multinationals and boxy suits. More than the location, this summer the outdoor bar is offering a series of beer-based cocktails, offering lighter and easier-drinking summer alternatives to more traditional spirit-heavy tipples.

The Italian Bramble (lemon, gin, Peroni and Crème de Mure liqueur with blackberries) is simple and refreshing, with enough citrus kick and berry sweetness to taste indisputably of an English summer with an Italian twist. The Italian Spritz (Peroni, elderflower and Sauvignon Blanc, garnished with cucumber, citrus peel and rosemary) brought the traditional wine cooler slap bang up to date and added more complex hoppy notes to what can so often be an underwhelming beverage. For those of you more adventurous (or to be precise, exactly as adventurous as TMM), there is the Bullet Dodger which utilises a chilli-infused bourbon to spice up the house Mint Julep. Fiery it ain’t, but the drink comes in the  impressive signature Julep cup.

One has the option of accompanying your drinks at The Parlour with nibbles and larger bites – TMM indulged in the smaller plates, the highlights of which were the rustic mozzarella and rocket flatbread, and an altogether pleasing deep-fried panko prawn lollipop with sweet chilli and soy dipping sauce.

A thoroughly pleasant evening was had, therefore, and if you happen to be in the neighbourhood in the coming months, TMM heartily recommends that you do just the same.

More information on The Parlour here.

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, James Bomford.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MAN: Lobster Kitchen, Tottenham Court Road

Lobster has undergone something of a rebrand in recent years. Gone are the snooty connotations of words like thermidor and accompaniments like champagne; in their place we now have sliders and craft beer (ok, so thermidor is still on the menu). Lobster Kitchen in Tottenham Court Road has continued this revival with a reimagined New England lobster shack nestled away in the heart of London.

A steaming open kitchen bustles in front of you as you take your seats, either at the bars around the room or on the giant communal table in the centre. The space is decorated in true New England style, with tacking and lobster pots adorning most walls and hung from the ceiling. It’s a lot more tasteful than it sounds, I should add.

A good bisque should be a simple warming staple of any New England eatery, and this lobster offering was no different, if slightly unspectacular. Our selection of lobster rolls was beautiful, the brioche bun the right balance of sweet and crispy and rich while the lobster meat took on the subtle variety of flavours, as one would expect. Asian, garlic, classic cocktail sauce, and an innovative Italian twist with garlic and chilli, inspired by co-founder Valeria’s background.

Sides are almost as important as the main event at a spot like this, and they do not disappoint, with the oh so trendy-at-the-moment mac n cheese taking centre stage, although the fries and were decent and the deep fried lobster legs were an interesting twist on an otherwise unused part of the animal.

The cocktail list is short and sweet, and specials rotate through the board, including offerings from the public. If you like your lobster a certain way, if it’s tasty enough then it can become part of the menu!

So get involved, duck in out of the rain and cold for a hearty filling feast, and you can show off to all your friends through the power of social media as you take nautical themed photos using the iPads generously strewn around the tables as you peruse the menu. Just remember to stick in a #lobsterkitchen for good measure.

More information here:

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, James Bomford.