Going on a diet in January is plain ludicrous. The very concept of a diet in which your relationship with food is defined by what you RESTRICT yourself needs to change to a mentality in which you ADD foods that give your body nourishment, but that is a rant for another day.
Why on earth you would start a diet in January is beyond me. It is one of the coldest months of the year, a time when your body craves fat for warmth. Secondly, salad at this time of the year is not seasonal, or environmentally friendly, a tomato a bland relation of its summer cousin. Finally, who in their right mind wants to make themselves feel more depressed in what is effectively the Monday of all months.
This is why I am rebelling against the January detox and am eating, without guilt, fried chicken. Not just any old fried chicken, Billy & The Chicks fried chicken, which with one delicious swoop, if you are a child of the 80/90s, will transport you back to your house party youth.
‘Nostalgia’ is the vibe that Billy & The Chicks are going for creating, with the best quality ingredients, an old school fried chicken shop. One in which you can sit, listen to some tunes and drink alcoholic Dr Pepper whilst getting fried chicken in and around your face.
Soho with its seedy yet romanticised past, is a location befitting of such a restaurant, where dirty food has become gentrified. It could be easy to criticise the advent of yet another new meat feast to the area, but Billy and The Chicks is different in its simplicity- it does what it says on the tin- really good fried chicken.
Inside the decor is simple, a mixture of white tiles, black and wooden clad. It looks slightly disheveled and I like that. On one wall, Billy explains how and why Billy & The Chicks came into existence, whilst on another there is space for customers to doodle and write their own message – to actively participate in the restaurant’s evolving story. Kitchen roll on each table further encourages people to get messy and enjoy their food. The result is a restaurant with an extremely welcoming atmosphere with fun cocktails that remind you of shit mixers but in the best possible way.
The food is everything you want it to be. The chicken is unbelievably juicy and flavoursome, the chips are crisp and the gravy… well, the gravy is just incredible. Chips, gravy and fried chicken – when you are in the mood – there are little things you can want more. The slaw has the perfect amount of acidity and coupled with the gherkins they cut through the fried fest, cleansing each mouthful and leaving you wanting more. The mac n cheese could have done with a touch more seasoning but I am being pedantic. If you don’t fancy chicken the riblets are also bloody good. Oh and they do takeaway.
To nail simple food you have to have great produce and Billy & The Chicks pride themselves on using the best suppliers. Their free range chickens, Cotswold Whites are ethically and slowly reared owing to their greater intensity of flavour. They also use Neal’s Yard Dairy and Bread Ahead for their cheese and bread.
Whether it is the music, the fried chicken, or the drinks, Billy Stock and Sam Bellamy has successfully created a restaurant that revolves around food memories. Billy & The Chicks was born out of personal nostalgia, its very existence is a testament to the power of our food/life association. Upon visiting you cannot help but leave happy, having remembered with both fondness and embarrassment, a memory of your adolescence. Stop dieting, start nourishing your body and above all start making your own food memories.
Billy & The Chicks, 27-28 St Annes Court, London, W1F 0BN £ 8/10