Everyone loves chicken. Don’t they? Will Holland, the head chef of 3 AA rosette winning restaurant La Bécasse, certainly does. When he was interviewed as part of the Guardian’s “where chefs eat” series, he chose Clockjack Oven’s rotisserie chicken as his recommendation. Praise indeed.
Chicken is everywhere in London right now. I’m not even talking about the fried chicken chains and Nandos’ of this world. All of a sudden, there’s an influx of restaurants trying (and often failing) to make poultry more, dare I say, ‘sexy’ and on trend.
There’s Soho House’s Chicken Shop, Hix’s Tramshed, MEATliquor off-shoot Wishbone, Chooks, Roost and many more. Add to this the fact that Clockjack Oven’s owners are planning to open over a dozen new restaurants in and around London and I start to wonder if there’s even enough demand out there. To be fair though, when the chicken is this good, there probably is.
Their plans of world (well, M25) domination began last year with the launch of their first restaurant on Denman Street, just around the corner from Piccadilly Circus station. They are out to prove once and for all that rotisserie is about a whole lot more than luke-warm birds in polythene bags next to supermarket deli counters
I’ve been surprised by the sheer number of positive reviews that have been written about this little chicken shop in the last few months, so we headed over there to find out what we were missing.
The location is amazing, it could hardly be more convenient. Inside it feels light and airy, especially with their huge front window wide-open. It was early on a sunny midweek evening and the restaurant was surprisingly quiet. This was great news for us because we certainly weren’t in the mood for queues. We were in the mood for chicken!
Like every new restaurant these days, Clockjack’s food has its back-story. Their free-range chickens are sourced from small farms in Brittany and are brined for 48 hours prior to cooking.
We started with some chicken bites and gravy. These were delicious. Forgive me for this comparison but they were like proper “popcorn” chicken. They had been marinated in buttermilk, coated in seasoned flour and lighty fried till crispy.
Being piggies, we then went for a whole chicken (10 pieces to share). It was juicy, succulent and flavoursome. Even the breast meat was perfectly moist. It could’ve been a little hotter (temperature wise) but besides that we had no complaints. The chips are good but I recommend you order a portion each, one between two just didn’t cut it.
By this point, we were feeling a little full but if you’re assuming that we skipped dessert, then think again. On our way home, we headed to Gelupo for a giant tub of amazing ice cream to properly round things off. Sod the diet.
I have to agree with Will Holland that Clockjack Oven is like ‘Nandos done properly.’ It may be a little more expensive but the food is far superior and you get full table service with a smile.
Every single staff member who came over was friendly, helpful and eager to please. It’s refreshing to encounter that kind of genuine attitude at such a reasonably priced restaurant in Central London.
If you’re in town and are feeling peckish (sorry – couldn’t resist) then give Clockjack a try. If you do, you’ll be in good company. The C.E.O of at least one major international corporation likes to get his lunch from here (well, his P.A. does). Top chefs like Will Holland also approve and we piggies concur.
Dinner for two with drinks and sides, including service- £45.60 (£13.50 drinks – we were thirsty!)
Address: 14 Denman Street, W1D 7HJ
Phone: 0207 287 5111
Follow on Twitter: twitter.com/ClockjackOven
Find them on Facebook: facebook.com/clockjackoven
Will Holland on Clockjack Oven: guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/video/2013/