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Popeyes
Photograph: Popeyes

In pictures: London’s first Popeyes opens this weekend

The Louisiana fast-food chicken chain is finally here

Angela Hui
Written by
Angela Hui
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This year London has already seen the return of Wendy’s, now there’s another fast food juggernaut muscling in on the action. American fried chicken chain Popeyes will finally open its first UK restaurant in Westfield Stratford on November 20 at 9am sharp (expect big, big queues). To some people this might mean nothing, but the joint is kind of a big deal in the US. Take when it launched its fried chicken sandwich back in 2019. It broke the internet so hard that it sold out of months of stocks in just a week. The New Yorker has described it as ‘here to save America’ and even the likes of Nicki Minaj, Migos, Kanye West and Beyoncé are big fans. 

If you don't know much about the eatery, here's the lowdown. Popeye's was founded in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1972 and since then it has grown to become a chain of more than 3000 restaurants specialising in Southern-style grub. Think: chicken, biscuits, gravy and all the rest. The flagship London store will (ironically) replace the old KFC in the shopping centre. It’ll be housed downstairs in the food court and will have two self-service kiosks. For those who can’t make it IRL, the cult restaurant will be partnering with Deliveroo on home delivery orders. I went down to see what all the fuss was about. 

The chicken 

On the chicken front, its chicken breast fillet is coated in a secret blend of Louisiana seasonings, then hand-battered and breaded in a buttermilk coating for a signature crispy and craggy crunch. The London branch will have the same menu as its US locations and we can expect chicken bites, hot wings, tenders and signature Louisiana bone-in chicken. What makes the famous Louisiana Chicken sandwich a thing of beauty is its tender meat and contrasting crispy exterior. You can choose from classic or spicy, the brioche bun is sweet without being overpowering, and the simple mayo-pickle combination complements the spices in the batter. It’s no wonder people queued around the block across the pond.

Popeyes
Photograph: Angela Hui

‘It's about the quality of our chicken sandwiches, we think it's the best in the industry,’ CEO of Popeyes UK, Tom Crowley, says. ‘We're focused on using fresh, great quality from the UK. We know London is big on fried chicken and we’re bringing something a bit different.’ 

Plus, it's worth noting that despite being an American brand, the chicken chain is going to be sourcing the majority of its ingredients locally in the UK instead of importing from the US. It has also signed the Better Chicken Commitment, which aims to improve the lives of chickens in their supply chain. What's more, all the chicken items will be Halal. 

@timeoutlondon

📍 Opening on Saturday 20 November at Stratford Westfield #chicken #popeyes #london #stratford

♬ original sound - Dmitri Robinson

The sides

Popeyes will also be serving up some mighty sides such as cajun chips, mash, mac ‘n’ cheese, biscuits with cajun gravy and onion rings. As for the highly-anticipated biscuits? Biscuits and gravy might be confusing concept over here, but they’re incredibly popular in the US. It’s basically a savoury scone, but the texture is airy, light and slightly more buttery.  

Popeyes
Photograph: Angela Hui

The vegan bits

For the first time ever Popeyes is launching a vegan burger: the Creole red bean sandwich, which features a breaded and fried red bean patty, lettuce, tomato, a creamy ‘Creole’ sauce and served in a soft brioche bun. Popeyes global innovation chef, Peter Genna commented: ‘For our vegan burger, we deliberately didn’t want to go down the fake meat route like others have. In Louisiana, red beans are a big thing and we wanted to highlight that and keep things fresh and natural.’ 

The dips

Its introduced a whole plethora of sauces to accompany the food, including some UK exclusives like Mango Habanero, as well as some much-loved sauces such as Mardi Gras Mustard, Bold BBQ, Nashville Hot and a special hot sauce collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion called Hottie Sauce. For a limited time only, there’ll also be a hottie sauce chicken sandwich. Real hot girl chicken.

Popeyes
Photograph: Angela Hui

The bevs

Eating chicken is some seriously thirsty work and there’s plenty of drinks and creamy shakes to wash everything down. The Lotus Biscoff, Oreo and vanilla shakes are must-haves. 

The future

Beyond E20, the American fast food chain has plans to open 350 stores across the UK. Soon, it’ll be expanding to bigger sit-down restaurants with drive-thru venues potentially on their way. Watch this space.

Westfield Stratford City, Montfichet Rd, London E20 1EJ

Fancy more fast food? Take a look at Wendy’s down the road from Stratford Westfield

Brace yourselves a ‘MegaGreggs’ is coming to central London

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