- The Dish: Chicken coated in buttermilk, seasoned with paprika, garlic and brown sugar, and fried in cayenne-infused hot oil
- The Place: Louie’s
- The Chef: Tom Brooke
What? It might feel like everything has already been done with chicken, but a new wave of operators are plucking out ways to make poultry exciting once more.
Opening in May, Louie’s claims to be the first restaurant in London to dedicate a menu to Tennessee-style chicken. Unlike the lightly seasoned birds from Louisiana or New Orleans, Nashville fried chicken is served blazing, according to the brand. Coated in buttermilk, it’s seasoned with paprika, garlic and brown sugar, then fried in cayenne-infused hot oil, resulting in a distinctive, deep red colour and a fiery, crispy coating.
Personalised poultry is key at Louie’s, so guests can create their own bespoke serve – from the cut to the level of spice desired. Diners can choose between a milder, warm taste or top-notch heat for their chicken, which is accompanied by traditional Southern sides like slaw and pickles.
Where? Debuting inn Hoxton, Louie’s is the new concept from Red Dog Saloon, the Austin-style barbecue and dive bar, which has sites across London, Liverpool, Southampton and Nottingham. The original brand was created by barbecue expert Tom Brooke as a solution to what he saw as dry, unloved and unskilled BBQ.
“This is an exciting time to be introducing Nashville fried chicken to London for the first time ever. Louie’s will serve red-hot chicken like nowhere else in the city,” he said.
Why? In America, fried chicken is more prolific than burgers. Of the 100 biggest US chains in 2017, three of the five fastest growing were chicken concepts. It makes sense, then, that operators over here think they can achieve similar success in the UK – after all, the States led the way with burgers too.
Other notable openings of late include Thunderbird Fried Chicken, which has gone from street food smash to its first permanent site in Brixton. It is reportedly eyeing further locations, having flagged spot in the O2 while also seeking planning approval for a place in Charing Cross.
Chicken concepts are also creeping into delivery as well. French start-up Taster, which develops delivery-only virtual restaurant brands, recently launched Korean chicken offering OutFry in London. The company worked with two-Michelin-star Korean chef Sang-Hoon Degeimbre on menu development.
OutFry’s menu includes six pieces of fried free-range chicken accompanied by a choice of sauces, including old familiars like ketchup and mayo, as well as Korean condiments like gochujang (red chilli), ssamjang (tangy combo of soybean, chilli and mirin) and yangnyeom (garlic, ketchup, gochujang, rice syrup and cider vinegar). There’s also a fried chicken burger with onion pickles, salad, pickled cucumber and spring onion, or a chicken bowl with marinated carrots, edamame, pickled cucumber and kimchi.
But it’s not just fried chicken that’s flapping its wings. To cater for consumers seeking out healthy fast food, Roosters Piri Piri chucked in the frying technique it had been using since 1992. Now, its chicken is marinated for 24 hours and steam cooked – and founder Khalid Mirza’s one shop has grown to 42, with ambitious plans to reach 100 within the next three years.
The brand’s chefs and menu development team have worked hard to make sure the food is low in fats, calories and saturates, Food Spark’s sister site MCA reports.
Roosters Piri Piri menu offers various wraps – stuffed with meats marinated in a choice of four different flavours, including the signature piri piri sauce – as well as burgers, salads, grilled platters and desserts. All flavourings are gluten-, nut- and wheat-free, in order to appeal to the widest possible consumer base.
Another strength of Roosters Piri Piri is it owns its entire supply chain. It set up its logistics arms, which also supplies other restaurant businesses, at the same time as it opened its first shop, and controls the process from the factory to the food on people’s plates.