I'll put it out here right now, I'd never eaten fried chicken before Chick 'n Sours. I actively avoid KFC (I'm awfully snobby, I know) I never did the Dixie Chicken thing at university and if I'm honest, I don't like chicken on the bone. Setting myself up for a right failure from the get-go, surely?
So I was dubious when I headed over to this new opening in Dalston. But I'll be the first to admit, I was pleasantly surprised - this is no ordinary chicken shack. Forget the formica and dodgy uniforms, this is a snazzy place that pumps 90s music out and serves up their eponymous sours in half pint jugs with handles. Speaking of the sours, the House Sour's pretty damn good. Gin with raspberry and chilli vinegar for that sweet and sour kick topped with vermouth had me from the off whilst the Negroni Sour sounds right up my street.
We ordered some sticky disco wings to share (they also come hot and naked) and the Szechuan aubergine which was the surprise hit of the night. Lightly battered chunks of aubergine were in a heavy soy sauce with plenty of coriander and spring onion for added bite.
At this point (a Saturday night), they'd run out of thigh and bone chicken, were dangerously low on the Guest Fry and the buns for the Korean burger had proven too popular. Not to be deterred, we went ahead and ordered what we could and it turns out that all's well that ends well, anyway.
(via)I went for the (boneless for one night only) Guest Fry. Compared to the anaemic batter I see in Bargain Bucket ads, this breaded breast was crispy and flavoursome, encasing the moist meat inside. Chili jam, crispy shallots, basil, mint and spring onion added extra dimensions to make it one seriously happy bowl.
We shared fries (of course) dunked in St Agur & buttermilk dip as well the house pickles which turned out to be pickled watermelon rind. Almost apple-like in flavour, we fought over these to the bitter end and I liked how they made the most of the fruit. The flesh also comes pickled with peanuts and coriander for a refreshing, zingy accompaniment to the fried chicken.
The only real disappointments of the evening were the bunless burgers which had been replaced by low-carb lettuce leaves so lost a bit of their charm, and we weren't totally convinced by the Weetabix soft-serve but you win some, you lose some, right?
So, all in all a great way to break me in to fried chicken. I won't be hitting up the old uni haunts of Mile End any time soon but I'm sure I'll be back to Chick 'n Sours for a fistful of their temporary tattoos too. Four out of five.