Juicy birds or plucking hell?
London has been inundated by a small flood of fried and roast chicken restaurants. I fully recognise that chicken cooked well can be a world apart from the usual fowl stuff, but I haven’t really covered these chicken restaurants largely because I just don’t care. Chicken, broadly speaking, is a meat for children – safe, predictable, comforting and uninteresting.
Given this state of mind, I probably shouldn’t be reviewing Clockjack Oven, a Soho rotisserie chicken restaurant a mere stone’s throw away from Piccadilly Circus. Nonetheless, an otherwise fruitless, ravenous late night wandering with The Euro Hedgie brought me to its welcoming, friendly door.
We started off with the chilli wings which weren’t spicy at all. The slightly crisp skin and moist meat wasn’t bad, but these wings have nothing on the sublime confit chicken wings available at Patty and Bun.
The Euro Hedgie has a guilty fondness for popcorn chicken, one of the few edible things from grease merchants KFC. The fried chicken bites here bear an obvious resemblance, but they didn’t compare well. The very small slivers of chicken coated in a bland and uninteresting batter had no taste and little in the way of texture. They were at least free of grease and excess oil.
The Hedgie and I split the chicken burger, discovering that the patty was just a larger version of the same bland, unremarkable battered meat found in the fried chicken bites. Although large and reasonably crisp, the underlying meat was surprisingly textureless. The slight crunch of bland jalapeños and a dollop of mayonnaise were our only consolation prizes.
Given the underwhelming nature of the chicken so far, the Hedgie and I had low expectations for the star of the show – four pieces of rotisserie chicken. It was pleasant enough though – moist, evenly cooked, free of grease and seasoned with large, crunchy salt crystals. We opted for just four pieces, but you can order more if you wish. Simple and good enough.
Of Clockjack Oven’s small range of desserts, only the clotted cream ice cream and lime sorbet caught my eye. The former was reasonably creamy and rich, while the latter was icy and translucent. Its lime flavour was strangely artificial though, almost as if it had been extracted from a large Opal Fruit candy.
Clockjack Oven’s rotisserie chicken is perfectly acceptable as a quick, filling and reasonably tasty stomach liner when you can’t get in anywhere else or if you’re in a rush – we were in and out within an hour. You should avoid almost everything else on the menu though.
Name: Clockjack Oven
Address: 14 Denman Street, Soho, London W1D 7HJ
Phone: 0207 287 5111
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday noon-23.00, Friday-Saturday noon-midnight and Sunday noon-22.00.
Reservations: probably a good idea at weekends.
Average cost for one person including soft drinks and service when shared between two people: £20 approx.