Many years back I was visiting America as part of reporting on the presidential election. One of the places I visited was New York and in particular the neighbourhood of Harlem. A friend of mine who had studied there took me to a place called Melba’s. As a neophyte sampler of chicken and waffles, I was very unsure about the combination, especially when the maple syrup came out and I was encouraged to get it on the chicken as well as the waffles. However, the combination was fantastic and something that I’ve never forgotten.
Although London may be home to many fried chicken places with affirmed connections to America with [Midwest state] Fried Chicken eateries filling up our high streets, it is rare to get chicken and waffles with much in the way of authenticity. There are places in the capital where you can get it from Stax in Kingly Court to Hackney’s Rita’s Bar and Dining. There are also the two branches of Absurd Bird, which gains points for sounding like an experimental John Coltrane album.
The interior is what you would expect from a restaurant that is styling itself on a Southern style chicken shack but does not overdue it on the paraphernalia. My companion and I started off with a baby kale salad and a jalapeño mac and cheese respectively. I was greatly enthused by the variety and piquancy of the mac and cheese, with enough bite and spice to make it a good twist on an established favourite. My companion was similarly pleased with the baby kale salad with its mixture of roasted pumpkin, roasted seeds, dried cranberries, parmesan cheese and maple vinaigrette.
Moving on to the main event and it was a course of overwhelming portions. I plumped for the chicken and waffles and found myself staring at a such a quantity of meat and waffles that I couldn’t be certain that this had been taken from a pterodactyl and not from a chicken. The meat itself was highly succulent, not too dry in any way and made for a wonderful combination between the waffles and the attending smoked sweet gravy and maple syrup. The only downside to the meal was that I was unable to finish every last piece of the dish. My companion also struggled with the enormity of her choice, the Smoked Chicken Burger, which was made up of a smoked chicken patty, and accompanied by montgommery cheddar, bacon jam and spicy remoulade.
Absurd Bird makes for a great place to visit and not only for the fantastic food. It is a place where you can linger over the food and maybe taken in one or two of the excellent cocktails or home-brewed beers.
25 Peter Street