Challenge: You’re out in central London, perhaps heading to the theatre, perhaps you’re just a meandering tourist or perhaps you need to line the stomach before a night out (This was me 10 years ago). You want some grub, certainly not anything that fits in the chain gang and not anything that will break the bank either. After all, your pennies are best spent on propping up that cocktail bar later on.
Enter Clockjack: A chicken shop that has a bit more street cred than its most famous competitor but still manages to pack a punch AND will give you change from a £20. Zomato is always in the know about where you need to be and when, and this is one of those famous Zomato meetups that I’m so fortunate to attend, especially since I got to hang out with Frankie, Amanda, Michael and Thorne.
We start with drinks and a selection of breads, some hummus, baba ghanoush and pitta bread, but don’t bother with all that, you need to prioritise the space you have for the chicken.
For the beer drinkers amongst you, they do this neat thing where they have a beer from North, South, East and West London – which was going down pretty well with the group. There were some unflattering comparisons being made to one of them tasting like soap, which weirdly enough didn’t seem to be a bad thing, but maybe that’s a beer drinker thing I just don’t get!
Entrees are a selection of chicken nibbles and this is where the fun really starts. Buttermilk chicken bites are a delectable combo of thigh meat, dusted in a gram flour combo and served with ranch and bbq sauce. Gary the rock star manager candidly admits to the BBQ wings being a little dry on the day and apologises for not being quite as gooey on the chilli sauce as he’s prefer for them to be served up!
Can’t say that us greedy types would have actually noticed, but top marks for his honesty! So far, it’s good but it’s not really wowing me and I’m still secretly thinking that I’d go back to my Portuguese Peri Peri experience.
But then, the true wow factor appears. This French lady is meant for 4, she’s been brined for 4 hours and then very simply grilled. But that’s all you need. I know all about brining because Nigella was a bit obsessed with Christmas turkey brining a few years ago (Admittedly she may still be) and it’s clearly the thing to do with poultry and I have no idea if that’s what making this so juicy, but it’s quite fabulous.
You do need the sides though so my advice to you is not bother filling up on breads and bites or whatever and just order up a whole chicken and all the sides. But take some friends or you’re going to look a bit silly. The Jim Beam sweetcorn is divine, the fries hot and crispy and the Coleslaw gets Michael all hot and bothered about other establishments who refer to it only as slaw, which is apparently a real no-no. As are drinks served in jam jars. It’s like a side order of dinner comedy to go with the chicken – take Michael with you for dinner and you won’t need to bother going to the theatre afterwards.
Finally, we came to dessert. A wee little sharing platter comprising of vanilla cheesecake, chocolate ganache tart, pecan and maple syrup pie. It was all perfectly nice, and satisfied the sweet tooth itch but what’s really memorable is the chicken.
No, Clockjack isn’t fine dining or destination dining. It’s good value for money, casual but unhurried and just the perfect place to get some decent grub before going on somewhere else. Tourists, take note. This is the place to get some sustenance before selling your soul down Soho streets.
Clockjack can be found at 14 Denman St, London, W1D 7HJ, very close to Piccadilly station and smack in the middle of theatreland.
I was a guest of Zomato but as a true appreciator of fine chicken, all views are my own.