Fun, lively and with about as much fried chicken as you could possibly want, Absurd Bird has fast become popular with the local Shoreditch dining crowd. Positioned on the corner of Thrawl Street, it stands just a few 100 metres away from Spitalfields Market. Their house motto, it seems, 'Because no good story ever started with a salad' might give you a hint of the evening we had in store.
With ornate bird cages hanging from the ceiling and telegraph wires strung from post to post overhead, this is certainly not your usual quick-stop chicken restaurant. Great attention to detail has been paid to the décor and the brightly lit space feels filled with warmth. The alcove tables, each forming their own little ‘coop’, work well for those here on a date night.
The downstairs cocktail bar is really something of a hidden surprise and would be easy to miss altogether if you had turned up thinking you were headed there simply to enjoy the Southern-fried chicken upstairs. A far cry from the louder, neon-lit and barn-themed interior of the restaurant, the vibe in the bar is rather more sophisticated and reminded me of an old Southern gin joint or saloon.
The Food & Drink
This is proper Southern American cooking with proper Southern American portions, and they certainly do not hold back when it comes to experimenting with somewhat unusual flavour combinations - for example the shot of house Moonshine with hot chicken consommé found on their drinks menu. I will admit that I was not brave enough to begin the evening with this!
Instead, I opted for the tequila-based Honeymoon in Mexico, delicious, and my friend went for the Savvy Sling, a refreshing option featuring gin and pomegranate seeds.
We decided to begin by trying a couple of their 'Smallish Plates' - the key here is in the 'ish'. The Spinach and Artichoke Dip (£4.80), served with homemade tortilla chips, was excellent, and I could have quite happily continued munching on it all night. We also tried the Fried Pickles (£3.50), not something you see very often on a menu and actually surprisingly good. They conjured up memories of fast-food hamburgers eaten as a child (in a good way!) and their crispy batter and well-seasoned skin made them incredibly moreish.
For mains my friend went for Big Mama's Favourite (£12 for 1/2 chicken), served in a sweet and sticky sauce. The standard chicken dishes, all either grilled or fried in the Southern-style and offered up as an 1/4, 1/2 or whole portions, are certainly what I would recommend. That way you can really appreciate the taste of the free-range, 100% natural chicken from Fosse Meadows Farm which the restaurant prides itself on. I went for the Smoked Chicken Burger (£9.50), which was a little dry and not altogether made up for by the bacon jam which topped it. The always popular Sweet Potato Fries (£4.50), were very good.
Shockingly, we still managed to find room for desert, and I'm very glad we did. The Ice Cream Cookie Cup (£4.50) and the Peanut Butter Cheesecake (£5.50) were both excellent choices, although I don't think you could go far wrong with much of their desert menu, which also featured Crack Pie and the (adults only!) Dipsy Cake.
Returning to their Drinks Menu, I am sure that their house Moonshine, a key feature in many of their cocktails, is soon to be infamous. It can certainly pack a punch! Triple-distilled and brewed exclusively for the restaurant by the lovely people also behind their cocktails, Soulshakers, it is soon to be on sale for £20 a bottle.
Absurd Bird has a really great relaxed dining atmosphere; it’s fun, people are laughing and having a good time, and the friendly team make it feel almost family-run. At the same time there is a vibrant and energetic vibe flowing throughout the venue and it manages to fit in well with its East London surroundings. They do well at being genuinely committed to what they do - serving up excellent dishes of pretty serious comfort food and damn good cocktails to boot - whilst giving the sense that they, and indeed their growing clientele, are completely in their element here. In addition, top marks for the fun yet unintrusive soundtrack they had playing throughout the night.
Overall, the experience we had at Absurd Bird was hugely enjoyable. The chilled out, friendly vibe welcomes in those seeking out the absurd culinary combinations and delights this quirky new venue is fast becoming known for, as well as curious passers-by. The house-distilled Moonshine is definitely a nice touch, and I will certainly be returning to purchase a bottle when it comes on sale soon, perhaps more as a memento of the evening than as something I will be drinking on too regular a basis!