Originally published in my other blog Panasian Kitchen
We heard about Billy and Chicks via social media and wanted to try it. We’d heard a lot of good things and as we love southern fried chicken we were very curious about how their chicken tasted. We also found a Timeout voucher online that pretty much sweetened the deal for us (£5 for 2 pieces of chicken, chips and a drink – absolute steal!). But if you find the voucher on Timeout, make sure you read the fine print because you can’t use the voucher on Fridays.
So armed with our Timeout vouchers, on a rainy Thursday, we headed to Billy and the Chicks. If you’re going to Soho Theatre, this is a convenient place for a pre- or post-theatre meal as it’s just around the corner. But be warned that it is a very popular place for cocktails in the evenings so you have to expect a bit of a crush. Lunchtimes are quieter as most of the punters tend to take their food away to go back to their offices. Anyhow, we were seated as soon as we came in (we came at 12 noon and the place was virtually empty). The staff are lovely and while they don’t hover over you, don’t hesitate to ask your questions because they’re really friendly and they know their food. We presented our vouchers and were asked what we wanted to drink. TOP TIP: If you get there early enough (just after 12 noon), you can choose what part of the chicken you want, i.e. breast, wing, thigh, or drumstick, because no one else has ordered and you can have your favourite chicken piece.
The Timeout vouchers are an absolute deal because Billy and the Chicks are very generous with their chips (skin on potato fries that are almost chip shop like, crispy-crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside! YUM!). I would think one serving of chips would be enough to share between 2 people or one very hungry (heavy on the very) person.
The chicken was amazing. The spice mix reminded me of how KFC tasted like when I was a kid. It was very reminiscent of KFC in the late 80s. The chicken is succulent and the flavour isn’t confined to just the breading and crunchy coating on the skin, it permeates through to the flesh. When you cut into the chicken, you see how succulent it is because the liquid that comes out isn’t oil but juice…lots of it! This is quite easily one of the best fried chicken I’ve had in the Big Smoke.
We also tried the ribs which were okay. The sweet-sour flavour of the ribs was interesting enough to make it stand out slightly from other pure ribs that you could get from fast food places. The ribs aren’t mind-blowingly amazing, but they are okay and worth the try. I loved the tangy-ness of the glaze.
The menu is not huge but what they had on there was very complimentary to each other. I was also quite pleased that they served gravy as a side. I’m not quite sure why, but gravy doesn’t seem to feature in a lot of places that specialise in American-style fried chicken. I haven’t tried their gravy though. But judging from the comments coming from the Australian group sitting at the next table, the gravy was really good. They each ordered their own gravy sides. They said they didn’t want to share! That’s for next time…because I am going back. The chicken is really good and I am so looking forward to going back!
The restaurant space is interesting. There are a lot of interesting photos everywhere – even a mural of Queen Victoria eating a drumstick! I would have wanted it to be lit a bit brighter though. We sat near the large front windows so we could see our food.
I enjoyed my eating experience because apart from the food nostalgia, the music was, for lack of a better description, very cool. All the music reminded me of the rap and hip hop music that I liked (mostly songs that were in the soundtrack of Save the Last Dance!) when I was growing up. There is a large DJ booth in the corner which convinces me they take their music seriously!
Most fast food places will want to turn their tables over quickly, but at Billy and the Chicks, we didn’t feel rushed. It felt like we were allowed to enjoy and savour our food. The staff are friendly and very zen and I absolutely love the small touches like inserting the straw into the soda can tabs so the straw doesn’t float away. To me that means that they think about the customer and what they can do to make the customer’s eating experience a little bit better. It’s the little things that matter.
If you want really good chicken, the finger-lickin good kind, visit Billy and his delicious chicks! Even without vouchers, I would pay for the food full price, because it is definitely worth it!