Please note, Chicken Town has now closed. Time Out Food editors, December 2017.
Fried chicken. In London it’s schoolkid crack, peddled in plain sight up and down high streets everywhere. It’s a toxic synthesis of salt, fat and capitulated meat that sends our city’s boroughs flying up the obesity tables with every mouthful. (It’s also the bane of urban dog-walkers, as anyone who has felt that tug-tug-tug on the lead accompanied by the canine crunching of discarded pavement bones will be able to attest to.)
As a food, it has a monopoly on certain of our postcodes. London runs on fried chicken in the way it used to run on oysters. And like oysters, fried chicken has been reappraised for the discerning set. All over London new poultry purveyors have opened claiming their birds’ range to be the free-est, their buttermilk soaking to be the most luxurious, their batter to be the crispiest this side of the Atlantic. Every day, it’s a battle of the birds.
Tottenham’s Chicken Town is a chicken shop, but it’s different. For a start, it’s non-profit, which is tantamount to communism in 2015’s London. The chicken is free-range. It’s steamed, then quickly fried to crisp up the coating (and is, by the way, delicious). Sides include the likes of sweet potato wedges and kale – try asking for that in Delaware Fried Chicken. By night, it’s a restaurant proper, complete with sit-down menu and table service, but one that deliberatedly chosen not to be a yuppie hipster joint, but to appeal to the local community, right down to the affordable price tags. Two pieces of chicken and two sides costs a tenner, a can of Beavertown Gamma Ray pale ale only £3.50 (you’ll pay around a fiver in most parts), and a 500ml carafe of house red a mere £12.50. The most thoughtful pricing is of the lunchtime junior spesh of chicken and chips, which at £2 puts it in realistic competition with the 34 other fast-food shops within a mile of the restaurant.
It also employs youngsters from the area in a meaningful way that allows them to take a career in the industry further (the staff are sincere and enthusiastic).
Evidently Chicken Town is doing something to get behind. The birds’ skeletons may end up on the roads, and the grease-mapped boxes may still render bus seats unsittable, but at least everyone involved in the chicken consumer chain will feel a bit better.