Monday, 24 December 2012

Wishbone

Wishbone, Brixton by Hugh Wright
Back in August when I wrote a piece for The Telegraph about the emerging trend for up-market chicken shops, I felt safe in including Wishbone in Brixton even though it hadn't opened yet. 

For one thing, I'd been to a menu-testing (yes, I know, it's a hard life) at co-owner Scott Collins' MEATLiquor earlier in the year and thought everything was pretty much spot on, and figured that if the food was as good as it was in beta it would only get better with time.

For another, whatever your feelings might be on the burger cult that has had London in its sweaty clutches for the last eighteen months or so, there's no denying that Collins is a canny businessman who seems to have the Midas touch when it comes to peddling nouveau junk food, so why shouldn't his fried chicken joint be as big a smash as his burger bars? Combine all this with the fact that his partner in this venture is all-round food know-it-all and social media darling William Leigh, and surely you have the recipe for a finger-lickin' success?

The menu at Wishbone, Brixton. Photo by Hugh Wright
Well, yes. You do. Wishbone, in Brixton Market - the covered grid of avenues which together with adjacent Brixton Village has stolen Bermondsey Street's crown as the capital's hippest restaurant strip - is just great. Split over two colourfully-decorated floors, Wishbone pays knowing homage to south London's myriad jerk chicken shops without resorting to patronising pastiche.

The menu is concise but offers enough choice to allow for variety on repeat visits (which, having been once, I imagine most folk will want to make). The free-range fried chicken, using Cotswold Whites from Aubrey Allen, is served as a quarter, half or in a sandwich and if the meat is slightly dry, it's made up for by exceptional flavour - actually of chicken, imagine that! - and a deliciously crunchy, oil-less batter.

Wings and thighs come with a variety of imaginative toppings; I have become dangerously hooked on the Thai thighs, boned, rolled and battered before being tossed in a tamarind dressing and topped with mint leaves, red chilli and crisp shallots. Buffalo wings are worth ordering for the accompanying sauce, studded with chunks of blue cheese, alone. Sides can be hit-and-miss; black-eyed pea salad and potato salad both proved bland, but deep fried mac 'n' cheese - because how else do you improve cheesy pasta if not by dipping it in breadcrumbs and deep-frying it, right? - is a thing of evil genius.

What I most like about Wishbone however, even more than the food, is the attention to detail. Even something as simple as a can of pop is served with care - chic glasswear, ample crystal clear ice-cubes, a neatly-cut slice of lemon - by unfailingly enthusiastic staff who manage to pull off the very rare feat of being extremely cool but not too much so for school. 

Moreish, fruity hot sauce and lip-smacking chilli vinegar are provided on every bright formica table along with eminently-practical wet-wipes for the inevitable sticky fingers. Price-wise Wishbone is fantastic value - a vast quarter chicken is just £5.50, sides all £2.50-£4.50 - and if I have one complaint it is that portions are so large that even, say, a quarter chicken and a portion of thighs is too much food for one person. Perfect for sharing though, so just take a friend or two.

I wasn't alone in spotting that chicken would be one of 2012's big food trends, but I'm glad that my early faith in Wishbone has paid off. This is fun, fantastic funky chicken - and worryingly for my waistline, only a leisurely fifteen minute stroll from my flat. I can't be the only resident of SW9 who's counting their clucky stars.

Wishbone, Unit 12 Market Row, Brixton Market, London SW9 8PR Tel: 020 7274 0939 www.wishbonebrixton.co.uk

Wishbone on Urbanspoon

Square Meal



Posted by +Hugh Wright

10 comments:

  1. Popped in here for a second visit on Christmas Eve (while laughing at the last minute panic buyers in Brixton Market, festive yam anyone?) and wasn't blown away this time... went for a slightly substandard chicken sandwich that just didn't hit the spot. That being said, it's well sauced (and sourced) and deep fried, so I'll definitely be back


    Rich

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  2. Funnily enough I was in Brixton myself on Christmas Eve though can smugly say I'd already completed my shopping by then!

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  3. You have been once, to a menu tasting, but you are dangerously hooked on the Thai thighs? Sure you aren't hooked on the free hospitality doled out to bloggers by Collins?

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  4. Hi Heathbar


    Not sure if you've read the post wrong or if I didn't make it sufficiently clear, but the menu tasting I refer to wasn't at Wishbone and is mentioned only to illustrate why I included Wishbone in another article I wrote earlier in 2012, hyperlinked if you click on the words ' the emerging trend for up-market chicken shops' in the first paragraph. That event preceded the several visits to Wishbone proper, all fully paid for, that this post is based on.


    Thanks for commenting,


    Hugh

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  5. I was so excited by Wishbone opening, I took a date there first week it opened...worst food I've ever eaten sober (although ace cocktails). He wasn't impressed either both with the chicken or with my taste and I went home with only indigestion.


    I went back thinking it was just first week nerves, but bloody hell, it's bad. Those Korean wings have worse coating than Iceland own brand and that vinegar sauce clings to your mouth like bile. Thighs were dried up lumps of indeterminate meatstuffs. I don't even want to recount the rest of it for fear of developing PTSD. All made more fun by the sneering staff and their inability to serve a drink first go since everything must be done while looking down their nose.


    I'm not surprised you had to comment on the well sliced lemon to find a plus point about this place...

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  6. Oh dear...nothing like a disastrous date to turn you off a place!

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  7. clicked & zoomed the image to get a close look of the restaurant, those colours in the photo would stop me from walking in the door & I wonder what the bucket is for?!

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  8. Actually it's deceptive. The feature wall at the end is bold and eye-catching, but the rest of the room is pretty muted - indeed mostly monochrome - and certainly not gaudy or overwhelming. The tin buckets on the tables are for bones - very practical!

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  9. office catering london12 September 2013 14:38

    Interesting article , for sure i will try

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  10. A concise menu is a sign of quality and freshness of the products used. This place seems to be very typical of the Brixton atmoshere right? I would enjoy it for sure !

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