The Chicken Shop, Tooting
Last Saturday evening we visited Chicken Shop’s Tooting location. On approach to the restaurant, the unassuming exterior gives little away to what you are about to experience. Through the windows, you glimpse the softly lit front dining area, with clientele dining by candlelight and flames licking at the tasty looking chickens turning on the rotisserie in the kitchen.
At 6:30 in the evening, the place was already bustling. Chicken Shop seems to draw a younger crowd, made up of couples, families and small groups of friends. Southern rock plays at a level just loud enough to hear above the chatter and honestly compliments the relaxed feel of the place. The first thing you notice is the delicious aroma of the roasting hens. Hanging from the ceiling above the open kitchen are industrial style light fixtures, which, together with the distressed timber lining the walls & ceiling, creates a rustic edge to an otherwise simple interior. The low lighting in the room allows the flaming rotisserie to draw your attention, making it (and the chicken) the star of the show.
There are no reservations available at Chicken Shop. You arrive, see the staff and give them your name, and they tell you approximately how long you will have to wait. After approximately twenty minutes, we were directed to a corner of the bench by the front window, only slightly disappointed to not get a seat at the main counter with a view of the open kitchen.
We were pointed towards the chalkboard menu and told that we had a one hour and fifteen minute time slot. After a few minutes perusing the simple menu of chicken (whole, halved, or quartered), sides (fries, coleslaw, salad, or corn on the cob), and dessert (apple pie, chocolate brownie, or lemon cheesecake), a member of staff arrived to take our order. Feeling up for a challenge, we ordered a whole chicken, accompanied by all the sides. Thankfully, we did not order any desserts, as it turned out our eyes were much larger than our bellies.
The drinks menu is equally simple, offering three kinds of beer, a cider, five basic spirits, soft drinks, tea and coffee, and wine in the varieties of white, red or rose (with the options of “House”, “Decent”, and “Good”).
Not five minutes after we ordered, our food arrived. And my word did it look incredible. Simply presented, our choices were served in blue rimmed white enamelled metal bowls that let the food speak for itself. The chicken was moist and full of smoky flavour, with a kick of spice. It was also quite possibly the most heavenly chicken I have ever put in my mouth. The sides were also delicious, but not so amazing that they would draw the attention from the star performer.
After around 45 minutes, we were well and truly stuffed and still had about a quarter chicken to spare. Our waiter approached and with a knowing look, asked if we would like a take away bag.
All in all, Chicken Shop proved a lovely experience, and one which I have a feeling we will be repeating again soon.