Fish ‘n’ chips, rock ‘n’ roll and, er, Ant ‘n’ Dec. There’s just a handful of twosomes so meant to be that they share but an ‘n’ between them. if the popularity of Chick ‘n’ Sours is anything to go by, it should probably be fast-tracked to this hall of fame.
Lights are set low – just a touch of blue neon – and music up high as diners and takeout customers file in. It’s unsurprising that the atmosphere is set to ‘party’ on a school night, since the man behind the fowl play is Carl Clarke, the chef behind Disco Bistro among other pop-ups. He’s practiced his chops pairing good times with good food, and posters from his former pop-ups pepper the walls.
The chicks in question are marinated in buttermilk Southern-style and cooked in rapeseed oil. It’s gonna get messy, especially if you order the chicken in a bun (£11): a whopping Korean-spiced burger, slaw, fiery gochujang mayo and chilli vinegar offsetting tender flesh and crunchy batter. Fries cooked in beef dripping had our feathers in just as much of a ruffle thanks to crisp, super-salty skins. (Gochujang, in case you’re wondering, is a Korean condiment made from chilis, rice and soy bean paste.)
If KFC (Korean fried chicken) ain’t your bag, the house fry or chicken tenders can be paired with potent dips (£1.50 each). The St Agur and buttermilk may prove too rich for a chicken dinner, but bone marrow barbecue sauce is an ideal accompaniment, sweet and extra syrupy. We chose to stick with Asian flavours. The guest fry (£11) in a warming satay-style sauce pairs excellently with a side of smacked cucumber with wakame (£4).
And what about those sours? Put it this way: I’d seek this place out for the bar alone, which does simple but satisfying things with its cocktails (especially when they’re just £6 each). They perfectly cut through those rich dishes, particularly the Paloma Sour with grapefruit for an extra bitter twist.
Those drinks, that music and the low, low lights create plenty of fun, especially when you’re crammed in tightly with neighbouring diners at tables spanning the width of the room. This cosiness may be a drawback for some, but we liked the buzz. Who knows? When you visit, you may even get clucky.