Working Lunch review: Absurd Bird in Spitalfields brings the unfussy grub of the Southern States to the East End

 
Melissa York
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Fried chicken with wafflers and maple syrup

Absurd Bird
54 Commercial Street, E1

What?

A gourmet fried chicken restaurant bringing the taste of the Southern States to the East End. As you’d expect, the menu is packed with poultry in all its forms – grilled, fried, even a whole smoked chicken – and there’s a “wing shack” out front for takeaway. A decent cocktail list will carry you into the early evening, when you should be ready to try the homemade “moonshine”.

Where?

In Spitalfields, a short walk from the City and Aldgate station. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but there’s actually around 100 covers inside and an underground bar with live music. The décor is kitsch, with faux farmhouse details like cow hides, plaid-covered booths and rustic wooden tables with buckled leather seats like you’re on a train in the Wild West.

Who?

A “whimsical entrepreneur” and an “American Chef” who wish to remain nameless for the time being. But they’ve got a second branch opening in Soho soon, and plan to spread their Southern grub across the UK in the coming months.

BBQ chicken wings. Don't worry, it isn't served on hay.

Order this...

The chicken wings are some of the biggest we have this side of the pond. The thought of the garlic, parmesan and lemon ones was better than the reality – in fact, they were a bit sloppy. But the smoked and buttermilk wings were both sublime. Other highlights include the hurricane popcorn – moreish and bursting with umami – the homemade BBQ sauce and the zesty apple coleslaw. Be warned, the desserts are a serious commitment. Southern favourite crack pie, a biscuit base topped with brown sugar, is unbearably sweet. Much better is The Dipsy, brioche served hot that can be torn apart and dipped in creamy chocolatey dips.

Business or pleasure?

Entertaining clients here really would be absurd. But the booths are perfectly set up for Friday blowouts and leaving dos, while the bar downstairs has secluded areas available for private hire. A bag of wings is a pretty enticing lunch al-desko, too.

Need to book?

No need, but it might be nice to bag one of the long booths if you’re with folk from work. Go to absurdbird.com or call 020 3246 0007.

The rustic interiors of Absurd Bird

The verdict

It isn’t refined, but it is a lot of fun and a stylish venue to boot. Authentically Southern items set it apart from the likes of Chicken Shop and Chicken Liquor, but the experiment doesn’t always pay off. Stick to the classics, though, and you won’t be disappointed.

One more thing...

The chicken is supplied by Fosse Meadows Farm in Leicestershire, which specialises in free range, slow-growing breeds that are reared for 50 per cent longer than your average free range bird.

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