Bites

Something about the Bird

So…I’m all for second chances.

Last year, we went to Bird in Shoreditch because I wanted to try the chicken.  I think I’ve written about my love of chicken so many times that this trip to try Bird’s chicken is completely self-explanatory.  I also had my Chicken Bucket List (I will be posting an update to that post in the next few weeks, so please watch this space!) to consider.  So off to Bird we went!

And needless to say, I was quite disappointed.  If you want to find out how dismal our dining experience was, read about it here.  The chicken was dry and overcooked, the service was a lackadaisical and a bit blasé and I said I was never coming back to any Bird branch ever again.

Until we saw a voucher for Bird on TimeOut London for a three-course offering (sides, a chicken burger and a dessert).  Alan said there was no harm in trying Bird again, especially at that price (I can’t remember exactly how much that voucher was for but it was something like £15 per person plus drinks).  So I reluctantly agreed to purchase the vouchers and off we went.

The two visits couldn’t have been any more different!  It was like coming into a different restaurant all together.  I mean, same name, same decor, same menu, same venue…BUT totally different dining experiences.

The staff were absolutely friendly, and wanted to talk about their food.  I know the word passionate is overused in the food business, but they were.  They were actually excited about their food!  They were completely happy that we had the vouchers and they explained how we could get the most out of our vouchers.  So order the food we did!

We both ordered wings as sides.  Alan ordered wings with the honey and ginger sauce.  The sauce was on the sweet side but had that lovely ginger hit that stopped the honey from being sickly sweet.  It was a lovely sauce for the perfectly cooked wings.

I ordered the buffalo wings.  I loved it because it wasn’t blow-your-head-off spicy.  I love spicy food but I like it when it’s not so spicy that you can’t taste what you’re eating because it was too hot!  It was just the right blend of spicy, tangy and the floral peppery notes.   Plus, the accompanying blue cheese sauce was yummyyyyy and was an absolute bonus.

Then we ordered the chicken burgers.  There are 6 burgers to choose from the menu.  Being the buffalo addict that I was, I ordered the buffalo blue chicken burger.  This burger is a battered boneless chicken thigh fillet served on a brioche bun with buffalo sauce and a blue cheese slaw.  I don’t think I got a chance to take a photo of Alan’s burger but he ordered a bacon cheese burger.

Then we ordered Bird’s doughnuts for dessert.  Alan ordered a doughnut ice cream sandwich which I thought was a dessert big enough to feed a family of four!

I ordered the daily glazed doughnut special – which was, on the day, a mint chocolate glazed donut.  I thought it wouldn’t be as formidable as Alan’s desert of choice, but when my dessert arrived, it was bigger than I thought!

It was such a HUGE MEAL and which came to about £20, including drinks and service charge, per person.  But it was such a different experience from our first Bird meal.  We were looked after, but it wasn’t saccharine-sweet sincerity.  It felt very genuine, and they really wanted us to have a really good Bird experience.  We didn’t feel smothered and I was quite impressed because they asked us if the food was okay before we took bites, which I thought was nice.  It’s never nice talking around a mouthful of food.

When they saw me taking pictures, one member of staff, a cheeky but charming French guy (I wish I’d taken his name), encouraged me to take photos and to tell people about Bird and to write a review on TripAdvisor!  I thought was brave because he hadn’t asked me yet whether we had a good time.  I think he knew that we ate well and that the food was good.  That confidence in their product speaks well.

And to be fair, we like it so much, we went back again for just the wings!

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Bites

The friendliest fish and chippy on the Soho block!

We’d walked past Poppie’s in Soho several times during our recent trips to London.  The Soho branch is on Old Compton Street and Poppie’s in Soho has taken over what used to be Bobby Chin’s House of Ho.  Whilst the signage is mostly black and white, the bunting strung across the signage makes it very cheerful, and, dare I say it, very British!

My friend Ally was visiting from Singapore and this was the only opportunity we had to meet with her.  I’d asked previously if she’d already had a fish and chippy meal since she arrived in London, fish and chips being quintessentially British, to me anyway.  She said no so I thought it would be good to have fish and chips because it would be a substantial enough meal if we were hungry but light enough because, well, it was fish. While I am partial to the fish and chip shop where I live, there was no way I was going to haul my friend up to Harwich to have just a fish and chip meal and push her back onto the train back to London Town.  It was our first trip to Poppie’s but we’d heard a lot of good things about it online.  It was convenient because it was close to where we wanted to go to in London.

When you turn into Old Compton Street , Poppie’s will be easy to find because it will be hard to miss the bright red Mini parked in front emblazoned with Poppie’s logo.  We popped our head in the door and asked for a table for 3 and we were greeted pleasantly and promptly showed to a booth.  The dining area was bigger than I thought.  Since the shop had a food prep and cooking area and a take away counter separate from the main space, I didn’t expect the space to be comfortable.  I thought that they would’ve tried to stuff as many tables as was possible.  But I was very wrong.  We had enough space to wriggle around very comfortably.  There was a certain charm to the diner/shabby chic decor of the space.

The staff is friendly and cheerful.  My friend thought we were regulars because of how the serving staff interacted with us.  I daresay you won’t find a friendlier group of people in the food service industry!  They were really nice and happy.  Some people might think they might be overly familiar, but it was nice to have friendly service that felt really genuine and welcoming.  The Poppettes, as the servers are known, know their food as well and can answer your questions about food really well.

Our food came out fairly quickly and piping hot.  You knew that the fish was fried to order.  The portion of chips was a great ratio to the regular portion of fish.  The fish was fresh, sweet and cooked to perfection.  The service was great and they looked after us without us feeling like they were forever hovering.  When we finished, they cleared our plates away efficiently but we didn’t feel like they were hurrying us up to free up the table.  We were allowed to sit and chat and finish our drinks.  The bill was also a surprise because it was very reasonable for what we ordered.  Great value for money as well!

I chose to order the cod because cod is always a safe option when eating at an unfamiliar chippy.  But I am definitely going back and ordering rock for my next fish and chip meal at Poppie’s.  It is definitely worth it!  When you’re in Soho, pop into Poppie’s for the best fish and chip meal!  You won’t be disappointed!

Poppie's Soho

Bites

A gem off the beaten path: Coleman Coffee Roasters

Coleman Coffee Roasters frontWe came across this lovely café quite by accident.  We were exploring Lower Marsh and the rain started to come down quite heavily.  We were also looking for a place to have breakfast because our usual cheap eat favourite Marie’s on the same street was closed.

We took shelter and the smell of coffee  wafting from the beautifully gleaming vintage espresso machine was amazing!  We were greeted with a really welcome “Hello guys!” so we went further in and looked at the menu.  We were intending to be polite and just have coffee and possibly cake.  But they served Staffordshire oatcakes or “oaties” and there was quite a choice from sweet to savoury fillings for the oat pancakes.  We’d never had oaties before so our curiousity was piqued!  We chose to have bacon and stewed tomatoes.  The aroma of cooking bacon was amazing, and boy were the oaties oh-so-fabulously good!  It rated an “oh-my-God-this-is-amazing!” with my mouth full of oatie-bacon-tomato goodness!  The oaties were light but surprisingly filling.  I expected to feel full and bloated after, but I didn’t.  It was heaven on a plate.

oaties!Now. let’s get to the lovely brew!  I opted for drip coffee because it’s what I do when trying out a new coffee place (my better-safe-than-sorry coffee measure).  I was offered a choice between the Guatemalan and another blend (I think it was Costa Rican blend) and I chose the Guatemalan.  It was very nostalgic for me because it was served on a Duralex looking cup, which reminded me so much of the French coffee cups that my father favoured.  At first I was worried because the drip coffee looked light and watery.  But oh no, was I VERY wrong!  The coffee was rich, comforting and oh-so-flavourful.

Mmmm coffee!The staff are lovely, very friendly, so very helpful and they know their products.  They’re happy to explain what they sell, what you’re options are and they give you lovely recommendations.  They also love what they’re selling.  That’s key!

This isn’t quite on the main road from Waterloo Station, but this is definitely worth a visit.  The space is small and there are only a few seats, but that’s part of the charm.  If you have the opportunity to wander around Lower Marsh, pay the lovely folks at Coleman Coffee Roasters a visit.  It is DEFINITELY worth it!

Coffee and oaties!