Absurd Bird

Restaurants, Soul and southern American Spitalfields
2 out of 5 stars
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(17user reviews)
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Fried chicken joint on Commercial Road.

I like fried chicken. A lot. And I like east London. Also a lot. So I really wanted to like this newbie, which has just swooped down onto traffic-clogged Commercial Road. And it wasn’t all bad. It had cute – if slightly contrived – faux-farmhouse interiors. Think leather booths with belts-and-buckles, philosophical statements on the floorboards and lightbulbs in ‘birdcages’ (of course). Staff are extremely enthusiastic, even the vegetarian who conceded he ‘hadn’t tried any of the chicken’.  

How they manage to stay so cheery is beyond me: on my Saturday night visit, the restaurant was mostly empty and the food pretty disappointing. The ‘buttermilk’ batter on my fried chicken wings was overwhelmed by dried herbs, the meat a little tough. Buffalo wings came with a thin blue cheese dressing again dominated by dried herbs. There was a good cabbage and onion slaw, sweetened with apple and carrot – but again, too many dried herbs. Seriously. Instead of much-needed salt, fries had been seasoned with spices and… Yup, you guessed it. Dessert was no better: overly sweet, dried-out cookies with milk, a cloying cheesecake with an Oreo base and Reese’s Pieces middle. 

There are a lot of excellent fried chicken joints in London right now – this bird has a long way to go to keep up with the flock.

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Absurd Bird says
We promise honest grub and good value, with a twisted take on Southern classics. Our chicken is the highest grade of free-range from our friends down at Fosse Meadows Farm, marinated in our secret recipe sauces then complemented by irresistible sides and insanely good desserts, all baked in-house.
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By: Tania Ballantine

Posted:

Venue name: Absurd Bird
Contact:
Address: 54 Commercial St
London
E1 6LT
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Average User Rating

3.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:9
  • 3 star:7
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|17
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tastemaker

I really wanted to like this chicken joint but it didn't hit the spot for me. 

Having said that, the chicken wings here are massive, much bigger than the usual fast food joints'. They are tasty and available in a variety of flavor. The appetizers were very good, especially the fried pickle and the Jalapeno cheese biscuits. 

Service was informal but attentive. The staff was knowledgeable too. 

The best bit was the happy hour with cheap cocktails making it a low cost night out, especially on a Monday when they have 50% off food too. They should improve on the flavor of the cocktails as some tasted watered down and some were too sweet.

tastemaker

big. fat, juicy wings - we had them in three flavours and the best was Buffalo Wings. The stars of the night for me was Chicken and Waffle and the spinach and artichoke dip.


The cocktails were weak and the list was short and didn't hit the right spot. It's a pity as the wings would make great accompaniments to fabulous cocktails.


Staff especially Ralucka who served us that night were helpful, friendly and knowledgable. 


I will definitely come back again, with another set of friends or the same set of friends. Check their website for promotions and get the loyalty card!

tastemaker

This was an actual chicken FEAST. A couple of us gathered at Absurd Bird for a catch-up session after the summer holiday and boy, was it a treat! We were ten people in total, so this was ideal for sharing the Chicken Wings along with a few starters.


Those of us who arrived early ended up ordering drinks while it was still Happy Hour (5PM-7PM) and I managed to grab two drinks: the Ol’Blue Eyes and the Savvy Sling. I preferred the former because I felt that it was stronger – I could taste more of the alcohol and it wasn’t too sweet. I thought it looked really interesting because the drink had a slight blue tinge, which made it fun to drink. The latter was much sweeter and was served in a tall glass and decorated with pomegranate seeds, a generous amount of mint leaves, and loads of ice cubes.


To kickstart the evening, we decided to order the following starters/sides to share:

  1. Fried Pickles – Quite a typical snack in the US (or so I’ve been told!) and really delicious! It’s unique and fun to eat because the pickles are coated in a lovely and crunchy batter and served with a ranch dressing dip on the side. One order of this was sufficient to go around the table and for us to try it, which was convenient.
  2. Spinach & Artichoke Dip – I personally really wanted to try this so it was the first dish I suggested, to which everyone agreed. This was my favourite starter because it was executed very well! There was plenty of dip and fried tortilla chips to go around the table and it was so flavourful – I could see strands of spinach and artichoke, which I enjoyed, and it was so creamy!
  3. Jalapeño Cheese Biscuits – Another American classic was the general concept of a ‘biscuit’. To me, it tasted very much like a savoury scone, which I enjoyed! It was spicy, so there was clearly enough jalapeño flavour and it smelled amazing when it was brought out to our table. Very fresh and they broke apart easily without leaving too many crumbs in the way. This was served with an apple butter, which was nice but I think the biscuits were delicious on their own.
  4. Absurd Dirty Fries – Couldn’t come to an American-themed restaurant and not have fries, could we? This seemed like the ideal choice because it came with a bunch of extra toppings (sour cream, guacamole, jalapeños, and BBQ chicken) and was a generous serving, which was perfect for sharing. I thought this was quite average in terms of the quality of the fries but interesting in terms of the additions on top.

For the mains, we shared the following:

  1. 8 Smoked Garlic Parmesan & Lemon Wings – I thought this combination was quite average in terms of how it was executed as a seasoning for chicken wings. It was rather heavy with the Parmesan and came out rather clumpy on the wings.
  2. 8 Buffalo Chicken Wings – Now this was worth it! These were my favourite from the flavours we ordered because it was a classic and also had a good spice to it. They came out looking rather orange but don’t let that put you off! They were very tasty and I’d definitely order this flavour the next time I come.
  3. 8 BBQ Chicken – I’m not a fan of BBQ sauce so I actually gave this a pass. But I did have a little taste of the BBQ sauce and it didn’t taste as sweet as some manufactured versions can be, so that was already a plus.
  4. Chicken & Waffles – This has quickly become a common combination to find at most restaurants specialising in brunch and/or fried chicken. An order came with four quarters of waffles and chicken tenders drenched in maple syrup and a serving of chicken gravy on the side. At first I thought there wasn’t enough maple syrup or that it should have been served separately like the chicken gravy but it was just the right amount when combined with the gravy. The waffles were crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside and soaked up the maple syrup and gravy well! The chicken tenders were surprisingly juicy and coated in a crisp batter.

As this was also a birthday celebration for one of our friends, our waitress was kind to put together a little surprise dessert plate at the end of our meal. She ordered us her favourite dish off the dessert menu, The Dipsy. This came as eight little brioche rolls stuffed together, ready to pull apart, and soaking in butter. It was served with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, and crème anglaise on the side for dipping (hence, ‘dipsy’). These were actually a lot heavier than we thought so sharing this out was sufficient as a dessert, and it was delicious! The brioche rolls weren’t too sweet nor were they too soaked in butter and the sauces on the side were alright. My favourite was the crème anglaise, as the other two tasted manufactured rather than homemade.


Overall, I think my friends and I really enjoyed ourselves here. The chicken wings were really good, the service (our waitress) was very accommodating and friendly, and the restaurant wasn’t very crowded so it wasn’t too noisy.

Tastemaker

Met some friends to check the wings out. Happy hour is 5-7, limited selection of drinks and they seemed a bit weak but I had a mango one that was nice. I don't care for wings but they looked amazing and everyone loved them. I ordered the Mac n cheese and although it was very good it was ridiculously priced. The sweet potato fries were great and served in a giant copper cup. The dirty fries were great but again nothing spectacular. My favourite thing of the night was the fried pickles. I could have eaten a bucket full! This is not a place for vegetarians, which is a shame. They did have some boring everyday veggie type burgers but no one at out table bothered with that. The wings were a huge success and I thought they looked absolutely beautiful! The atmosphere was relaxed and inviting, best of all the staff were amazing! Especially Raluca who took excellent care of us! Ask for the Absurd Bird Card to get discounts like 50% on Mondays.

Tastemaker

Came to try their chicken wings and wasnt disappointed: massive juicy wings with a lightly crunchy exterior that offers a lot of meat! They have different coatings and sauces and that was the hard part as they were either bland or a bit one dimensional. Great sweet porato fries, too, none of that soggy rubish! The place still offers great value for money for cocktails with friends, specially on a Monday when you can get 50% off your food bill if you sign up for their loyalty card. They were sweet enough to bring a sharing dessert with candles to celebrate a birthday, but that was't spot on either, with the tear-and-share brioche being a bit tough. If you navigate the menu wisely, and stay on the chicken-and-cocktail side, you should have an enjoyable night for a decent price.

Tastemaker

Best wings in London! The buffalo wings here are to die for and the size of them in Insane!these chicks must be on steroids! I booked a table for ten of us on designmynight. The booking process was easy and I also spoke to reluca that afternoon confirming the table and letting her know regards my friends birthday, she was very oblinging and said she would arrange a cake on the house for us! All my friends loved the ambience, food and Raluca treated us like VIPs Top tip Get the pickles for starters Sweet potato fries and the buffalo wings

tastemaker

The wings here are great and huge in size.  The various starters are also tasty - the breaded pickles are a revelation!  The cocktails are good and there is a decent happy hour from 5pm to 7pm.  The staff were very attentive and looked after us well - especially Raluca.  Try and get an Absurd Addict Card if you can for great deals such as 50% off on Mondays.

Tastemaker

As a vegetarian, going for a crazy dinner full of wings wouldn’t be my first choice. Neither would it be an American diner, but oh well, what wouldn’t you do to spend a lovely night with a bunch of Time Out Tastemakers.

The beginning wasn’t great, they waitress wasn’t aware of the deals from the app we had and the manager, that was supposed to know, never turned up at the table. Ordering the first round of drinks didn’t come easy either, although the place was almost empty. I shouldn’t complain, though, they let our late-comers order cocktails at the happy-hour price although it was 1 minute past the time. But when the table was taken over by the lovely Raluna, we almost got VIP treatment.

They make their own ‘moonshine’ at Absurd Bird and I really regret not getting any of the cocktails made with their home-made spirit, but at least I have a good reason to revisit. The Savvy Sling gin-based cocktail was tasty, but slightly too sweet for my taste.

As for the starters, I loved the idea of deep fried pickled gherkins! Not only was the pickle aromatic, but also the batter, spiced with rosemary, if I’m not mistaken.The sweet potato fires were excellent too and the artichoke – spinach-cheese combination was a new thing for me and I loved it!

The Jalapeno Cheese Biscuits (served with apple butter) were freshly made, warm, crumbly, with a touch of spice.

We didn’t have space for dessert, but one of us received a fried brioche on the house with birthday candles, which was a nice touch.  

I haven’t tried the meat myself, but my companions were raving about them, I even heard ‘best wings in London.'

And the venue itself? I loved the shabby, slightly raw décor, full of character and with attention to detail (I especially loved the littles poems hanging on a string!).

Make sure you grab their loyalty card to come back for 50% off your next food bill!

Tastemaker

I really want to like this restaurant and the food here. There's a good selection of things to eat, the cocktails are good and the staff were pretty much perfect. But ultimately, they were let down by a serious lack of attention to food and cooking. Best dish of entire menu was the spinach and artichoke dip, and this alone is worth coming here and ordering. The chicken itself is good but nothing special, probably the best flavoured chicken is the roast smoked chicken, which ends up being too dry regardless and almost inedible. Sweet potato bake with marshmallows is not an acceptable side, FAR too sweet, and the coleslaw was actually very good. Wings are decent too, as you get the whole wing and not just the half so be warned when ordering their flavours. Garlic and parmesan s the best! And finally, dessert. Crack pie was the best but too sweet, and the tear and share brioche bun was pretty terrible. In fact, not even worth considering. Same goes for the peanut cheesecake. All in all, stick to particular things and you'll be fine, and ironically, don't go for the chicken!

tastemaker

We came in for Happy Hour cocktails, and stayed for the chicken! What started as a 'quick drink after shopping' ended up as 4 hours delighting in the cocktail menu (£5 for cocktails and £3 for beers is a bargain) and finger-licking with the juicy wings. The parmesan fried variety were great. Massive wings, crispy skins and delicious coating. And the cocktails match up... good menu, expertly made and well presented. 


Overall, a tasty, well-priced informal meal that will leave you with a (greasy!) smile on your face. 

tastemaker

I know this is a chicken place but first off I have to say that the jalapeño biscuits with Apple butter are phenomenal. To anyone ignorant like me they are biscuits in the American sense which are actually scones. Warm, savoury bready goodness! Mmmmm

Back to the main event - the chicken. I think I made a wrong menu choice and had the smoked chicken burger. For the seemingly never ending list of friends I have that don't eat beef this patty style chicken burger is probably a welcome change from a simple chicken breast or breaded option. The patty was huge and smoking made it taste much more like sausage. The garnishes were good however the bun was a bit dry the whole dish just wasn't as juicy as I would have liked. Had some sweet potato fries and sweet corn on the side which were both good.

My friend had some wings, which she enjoyed, and the brown rice salad with chicken - that was awesome. I had food envy. Although possibly a bit overpriced at £11 - same with the burger considering you had to get any sides separately. We had 50% off though so hence our large order!

The restaurant itself was nice and staff friendly. I've decided it's probably worth another visit to try some more of the menu - potentially resulting in more stars!

Tastemaker

This is exactly what I would imagine an American Fried Chicken Diner would be like. The portions are HUGE and LOUD. This is not the place to impress your date, or for the small eaters. This is where you would come with the lads post gym workout (incidentally this was exactly when my group ate here as well). The staff are extremely friendly and give really good recommendations. Do remember to save space for the dessert as it is excellent. I saw tables doggy bagging their food because of the sheer size. Also, the prices are affordable enough for a really casual meal! Well worth a trip!

Tastemaker

A decent but very sloppy (loads of mayo) fried chicken burger made for an OK lunch. Service was friendly, but slow (just one waitress for lunch time rush). Would have loved to try their dessert menu (peanut butter cheesecake😍), but needed to save room for dinner...

Staff Writer

Chicken wings done right!


I'm a big fan of American style food and these guys do things really well! 


One of my favourite memories from Canada is eating hot wings and drinking pitchers of beer while watching hockey. The hot wings here took me right back there and the buttermilk and buffalo wings stack up as well.


Chicken and waffles next time...


Tastemaker

Crispy & crunchy, fried chicken is the current king of low-key London dining. Newly opened Absurd Bird near Liverpool St is now taking its turn to muscle to the front of the ‘try me, love me’ queue with its cold beer, hot birds & relaxed vibe; I popped in one evening during their soft launch and staggered out a couple of happy hours later, unashamedly carrying my stomach in both hands.


There are many thing to appreciate about the Bird. The cosy booths for two that line the wall are super cute and I love the plaid-shirt-covered bench seating at the larger tables. Fluttering notes are strung across from wall to wall and the birdcages that swing gently from the ceiling were a quirkily random touch.


I’m a total groupie for outstanding service which was hands-down delivered here; when the people bringing the menu have favourites that they really, really, REALLY wanna share, you better believe I'm gonna listen. Combining an earnest passion for the street food currently circulating around London with a deep love of Southern states USA soul food, the menu slings one dribble-inducing dish after another at you. Some of them you know and some, well you definitely wanna get to know them too.


Delivering trans-Atlantic sized portions at reasonable but not scarily, questionably low prices means you need to come here hungry and with your big girl, extra stretchy pants on. A copper skillet of Spinach & Artichoke Dip with snappy, deep fried tortilla chips was so comforting and delicious I tossed up whether or not I could, with any degree of ladylike grace, pick up the pan and lick it clean. You’ll be glad to hear that in the end I simply opted for scraping ever creamy dollopy dreg onto my chips, my fork and oh yeah, my fingers too.


Fried Pickles were piping hot, juicy, crisp and battered to just the right point of gnarliness while the Fried Chicken & Waffles with maple syrup and a sweetly smoked gravy was quintessential soul food on a plate. Fluffily light with syrup seeping from every golden pocket onto each crispy piece, this is confirmation if ever you needed it that chicken & waffles are total soulmates.


The commendably lighter menu options were duly perused and duly rejected; brown rice salads have their place. It is not in the same establishment as chicken of the deeply fried variety. Go instead for the baby sliders and marvel at the delicious cuteness of teeny potato buns stuffed with bacon-jam slathered chicken & chin adorning, creamy slicks of mayo.


You know it's a good shout when you've already picked what you're having on the next visit - Sweet Potato Pie topped with marshmallows, tear & share Dipsy Cake and Jalapeno Cheese Biscuits with Apple Butter in case you arrive first. Hand on heart I actually enjoyed the starters & sides here more than the bird itself but I think that’s a reflection that those dishes were really excellent rather than the chicken was poor. Great for a mid-week date or bang on for a weekend group dinner, this is a brilliant little place to get down, get dirty and get soulful at. 

Tastemaker

Came here for a soft opening. The decor was quirky and bright (a stark contrast from a similar restaurant right down the road) and we were seated immediately. We had the jalapeno cheddar biscuits, chicken wings, chicken burger, rice salad (with chicken), and sweet potato fries. The highlight was was biscuits-- so warm, with a right amount of spice and salt. Paired with the apple butter-- I was floating away into heaven. 


My meal of wings and rice salad was pretty fantastic. The 3 wings are really 6, as they keep the wing whole (so one drumstick and wing per piece). I had to go with Buffalo (have to represent!) flavour. I was a bit annoyed I had to pay extra for blue cheese, should be included (and if you ask for more then you pay). The rice salad had sweet potato, onion, raisins, and had a very light vinaigrette for topping. It also had delicious three chicken strips on top. The salad was very filling (or maybe it was the wings) but I definitely tooks some leftovers for lunch the next day. Even the chicken kept its crispy outside even after sitting in the fridge and a quick nuke in the microwave. However, I think paying £11 for that size salad is a bit much. 


I hope this place sticks around, would be nice to go and sample some more wings!

Staff Comp

Chicken and waffles.. need I say more?! But actually, I should really - because there is a lot to shout about with this spanking new addition to Commercial Street. 


Great attention to detail is paid throughout the restaurant - think Bird Box lampshades and binocular light fittings. It's not all about the chicken though; downstairs you'll be pleasantly surprised to find a rather sophisticated bar, clad with brass and marble, and luxurious velvet seating. Definitely order cocktails when you're there - they have their own Whiskey (Moonshine) made in-house. Their own 'Absurd' lager is also too easy to drink.


Let's get onto the food. Now I didn't have a chance to order a huge amount as it was a flying visit (pardon the pun) BUT - buttermilk fried chicken steamed buns combining the Asian bun trend with crispy, tender fried chicken were very good, and easy to wolf down a plate of 3! The artichoke and spinach dip was cheesy moreish goodness, served with crispy homemade tortilla chips - get this as a snack whilst you're deciding what to order.


The team were brilliant with their recommendations throughout for both cocktails and food. 


I could write a whole lot more, but probably best to save this for my next visit, when I eat my way through the menu.