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.
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.
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.
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.