As a youngster things were simpler. There was Burger King, Wimpy, Pizza Hut and McDonalds. There was also a fucking spaceship on the motorway called Megatron where you ordered your food from a computer and a robot delivered it. Maybe this was just a dream, (then maybe it wasn’t). All exciting stuff regardless. But now things are so complicated for kids and kidults. I mean Giraffe.. seriously?
I’ve smugly avoided Nandos for years until I acquiesced last year. Frantically dispirited from an ill fated trainer shopping trip, I was 1st world starving and slipped in to a Bethnal Green ‘branch’. Aside from a complex ordering procedure it was, you know, not bad.
London’s insatiable appetite for American food trends has recently been all about sexed up chicken. Mark Hix’s Tram Shed aside, they have all been much of a muchness. Food wise, nothing has been that that better than Nandos in my opinion.
However a midweek visit to Cookhouse Joe surprised me.
Situated on Berwick Street, Cookhouse Joe is run by same family who look after Soho Joe. There are two floors. Downstairs is cosy with 50 chickens on a rotisserie overseeing things and upstairs is more spacious.
We were looked after by one of the three brothers who seemed trustworthy and ordered for us.
First up flat breads and Moutable. The Moutable was a revelation. Smoked, citrusy, balanced. Lemon is an underrated seasoning and throughout this meal and they judged it to perfection.
Ordering flat breads is a cue for my girlfriend to tell me her story of living in Oman for at least 5 minutes. Should a falafel arrive, game over! There goes the whole night. Falafels were delicious.
Then the big moment. Enter the chicken. Any boring gourmand worth his salt will tell you the best chicken in the world is Poulet de Bresse from France. They say you can get better rotisserie chicken in a French service station than in any restaurant in Europe. Whilst this notion may be bollocks, it’s also romantic and pretentions, I‘ve always liked it.
Our chicken was up there with anything I can recently remember. Moist with crispy skin, ‘tastes like real chicken’ etc. You know what I mean.
Accompaniments were ok. Chips fine, salads fine. The only quam was the limp, Michel Clegg of a Chili sauce.
Next a delightfully enormous apple pie & ice cream with two spoons and two forks This was served in a mess tin which is a nice touch I don’t even think I’ve seen in Shoreditch. The pie was epic; cinnamony and indulgent. Perfect for a 11C Summer’s June evening.
When family places are done well they offer something chains or restaurant groups will never be able to. Perhaps it’s sincerity. The owner showed us around and immediately you wondered what this place had been or seen before. Opium den, public house, brothel, maison derrière… all good.
This a Soho beauty, ready for these owners to leave their own history, until the next..
55 Berwick St London