Very rarely do you get an offer you can’t refuse: winning the lottery, it’s alright for some; becoming king of the country, yeah I’ll take that. But having dinner in a 60s style restaurant that is all about poultry? That's something else. A church for all things chicken, pigeon and duck, was The Holy Birds the bird-of-paradise I was looking for, or just another clucking false prophet?
The Holy Birds was an evocation of the sixties by juxtaposing blobs of yellows, pinks and reds as if we’d slipped into an Austin Powers movie. This wink-wink nudge-nudge humour in the design even extended to the toilets, which were labelled ‘Hens’ for the ladies and ‘Cockerels’ for the men.
The venue is split in two with a bar area featuring comfortable lounge sofas and the dining area, where we found ourselves for food. A long, cool U-shaped sofa that intermittently partners with tables and chairs takes centre stage, surrounded by more conventional dining furniture. At the far end, an open kitchen teases diners with the sounds of sizzling poultry and a rotisserie filled with birds. The venue manages to evoke the trippy, 60s aesthetic without falling into the tacky, which is a tricky line not to cross.
The Food and Drink
Armed with a menu packed with birds, it was finally time for my friend and I to pounce on the poultry. Our waitress – who was delightfully eccentric while remaining perfectly attentive, which was a welcome touch – guided us through the novella sized cocktail list. I divulged from my usual ‘anything with whiskey in it’ cocktail policy for a Moscow Mule (£10), made from Stoli vodka, fresh lime juice, ginger beer and a scoop of delicious ginger sorbet on top. This was probably my favourite drink of the night, with the lime rounding off the serious edge of the ginger to keep it wonderfully fresh. My friend on the other hand chose the Eye Opener (£8) that involved rum, absinthe, orange curacao and an egg yolk.
I decided to expand my poultry horizons on this trip and ordered a duck breast carpaccio (£11). Having never tried raw duck before, I was slightly sceptical, but the end result was wolfed down. My friend chose the goose and apricot terrine (£7), a more hearty starter that still managed to be deliciously tantalising. Having never eaten it before, I chose the confit and roast pigeon with beetroot, kale and redcurrant (£18.50) for mains, partly because I love tasting new things, partly because I’ve eaten my lunch in a central London park before and this kind of revenge felt slightly poetic after those dumb birds stole my crisps. It was the right decision, as the pigeon was cooked to perfection and the gentle richness of the meat paired well with the sweetness of the vegetables. My friend ordered roast duck breast, butternut squash and chicory tarte tatin (£21.50), which was seasoned better than any dish ought to be (this may sound like an odd compliment, but that subtle change can really elevate a dish).
We ended the night with their unique ‘Night Owl’ cocktails on the insistence of our waiter. Defying gender stereotypes, I chose the Pink Squirrel (£9), made from almond liqueur, crème de cacao white, fresh cream and ground cinnamon, and is exactly as delightful and indulgent as it sounds. My friend ordered the Brandy Alexander (£9), made from cognac, crème de cacao dark and fresh cream..
The Holy Birds is amazing at two things: cooking birds, and creating a relaxed, friendly environment. The Wednesday night crowd wasn’t bursting, but on the dining side of the venue it was mostly filled with young professionals who appeared to be on date night. The bar was a bit busier and, what with it being on the doorstep of Liverpool Street Station, was occupied by post-work drinkers sampling their novella-sized cocktail list. This is definitely a quirky place to hang out if you’re in your late-twenties or mid-thirties.
The Holy Birds pulls off its 60s theme without falling into tacky and its cocktail list manages to be extensive without sacrificing the individuality or flavours of each offering. If you’re a lover of kitsch décor, great mixed drinks and are a believer in the sacred power of poultry, then you’ve found your salvation.