Joining London’s flock of recently opened chicken ventures is The Holy Birds in Spitalfields. Absolutely tries it out
Words Helen Brown
This 1960s-style food, bar and live music concept is the second undertaking from the Calabreses Brothers. Other venues include Hoxton Pony and Wringer & Mangle. It aims for the casual-dining, cocktail sipping folk of the City.
Set over two floors, the space takes its look from the ’60s music and art scene. The place is fantastically orange. Authentic 1960s pieces furnish the interiors. Think wooden tables with bright orange chairs, atomic age lighting and psychedelic carpets.
We start with aperitifs from barman Salvatore Calabrese’s 60s-themed cocktail menu. Babycham features with smart twists on old classics. The stand out between a classic Mai Tai and Smoky Manhattan is the latter. It’s made with Wild Turkey Rye Whisky, Ardbeg Malt Whisky and Sweet Vermouth. The gentle orange sweetness has a smoky, cinnamon finish.
The restaurant, as one expects, is about all things feathers. Poultry includes duck, grouse, wood pigeon, quail, free-range chicken and pheasant. We start with the duck breast carpaccio. It’s tasty and seasoned well. Heritage carrots and roasted parsnips with curry oil salad complement the dish. It’s a vibrant, fresh dish with a moreish mix of textures and flavours. For mains it’s a half rotisserie chicken with hand-cut chips and gravy. The brothers call it a ‘posh Nandos’. We see the bird glisten from our table. As it turns on its spit its skin crisps to near perfection.
It gleams as it arrives on an ungarnished plate. And it doesn’t disappoint. The roast duck is a glossy mountain of pink duck breast on a bed of chicory, kale and butternut squash. We split the chocolate baked Alaska for dessert and a mountain of toasted meringue arrives. It conceals an indulgent, chocolate centre that disappears completely.
Downstairs there’s a quirky cocktail lounge. If we weren’t feeling like a pair of stuffed birds ourselves, we would head down to drink Screwdrivers on velvet sofas. However, we go home instead to watch Mad Men.