Sometimes it's not about discovering the newest and hottest place in town but instead returning to an old favourite that is still as good as on it's first day of opening. Chicken Shop is exactly such a place. I lost count how many times I stuffed myself absolutely silly with their delicious free range rotisserie chicken, crinkle cut chips, incredible aioli mayo and of course the insane apple pie served there, more often than not waddling rather than walking the short distance from their original branch in Kentish Town to my flat at the time in Chalk Farm. Sadly with moving East the distance to get there became a little too long and far up the Northern line, especially considering the many eating out opportunities basically now in my front yard, which meant my last trip there had been over a year ago. Luckily I wasn't the only none North Londoner that discovered the goodness of Chicken shop which finally resulted in a few more branches popping up over the last year including ones in Holborn, Tooting and (to my joy) Whitchapel!
Having raved about it for so long it was only fitting that me and my new flatmate made a little pilgrimage there to celebrate Easter and boy was it as good as I remembered! Though I prefer the interior of the Kentish Town branch ( here the space is small and a constantly opening front door right by the seating area can make it feel a little unwelcome and cold), the food was as on all my previous visits flawless and the service attentive to a level you only barely receive in London. Prices have also remained the same which isn't a given with growing popularity and are at that more than reasonable (our meal with a bottle of wine, a whole chicken, three sides and two desserts coming to £65 with service).
We couldn't stop eating despite trying to save space for dessert and especially as someone that is basically a pescetarian (this in fact my white first meat in about a year) I can vouch for the quality of the chicken, rightly the star of the show here. Last but definitely not least was of course the apple pie and though a classic and simple dish here it is the perfect dessert, served out of a pie form that if you are lucky enough/ time your visit right you may be left to demolish with. Add ice cream and of course a good dash of cream from the jug (!) served alongside it and you can mop up all pie goodness, from the buttery and crunchy crust to the beautifully spiced apple filling. I am not usually a fan of fruit desserts but there are few things in life that are more comforting than this little slice of happiness and one of the top 5 desserts I have had in my time. Yes, it is an indulgent meal and you probably won't be hungry for the next day or so but Chicken Shop is a must try for anyone that hasn't been, especially now that you don't have to go all the way to Kentish Town to enjoy it.
Ben's cookies is another one of those trusted foodie favourites, like an old friend, at an instant able to unearth fond memories of your first taste of their ooey, gooey and quite frankly addictive cookies. Indeed it was on a day trip with my parents aged 12 to the Natural History museum when I first got my teeth into the rich, slightly under backed and, if your are lucky, still warm dough, surrounded by huge chunks of chocolate. I had of course had cookies before but this was something else - the godfather of all cookies - that made you want to keep on eating even if one barely manages a second cookie in a sitting with all the butter and sugar undoubtedly involved. These taste like the recipe you'd like your grandma to be the owner off as a kind of family heirloom to pass through the generations and as much as one can try ( and there are many online attempts) it seems almost impossible for the novice at home to recreate a Ben's cookie.
Perhaps it's not only about the cookie itself, choosing your desired flavours ( for me white chocolate & cranberry and dark chocolate all the way) whilst taking in the freshly baked scent filling the air and drooling over the end result on show in their glass counter display before going home and carefully opening the distinctive red box, may be as much part of the experience as eating the actual ( and of course absolutely brilliant) cookie, in a way allowing us to be that slightly over excited child we were at our first encounter with Ben once in a while.
Of course even if you haven't had a Ben's cookies in your life so far and have way past even your teenage years I can still only urge you to go tomorrow because after all we are never to old to let our inner child out once in a while especially if it means having the best damn cookie in town.
There are some restaurants that seem to be on your 'to try' list for a felt eternity. Recommended by reliable sources ( i.e. Time Out or fellow foodie friends) you always want to try the place yet never actually manage for some obscure reason.
Morito is exactly such a place, its location in the middle of Exmouth Market, a wonderful pedestrianised street full of restaurant gems, somehow not quite east nor quite central enough to make it a convenient meeting point and it's no booking policy and limited seating not exactly appealing if you want to eat at any time other than 6pm on a Monday. However Morito's famed execution of classic Spanish tapas with Middle eastern twist proved too hard to resist especially as I had heard it to be of a similar standard to my beloved Honey & Co.
So I made the effort a Saturday night not too long ago and, though we had to dine a little early and were squeezed in a little tight right next to the front door, overlooking too a rather unfortunately placed building site, it all didn't matter as the food proved exceptional. From Spanish tapas staples such as patatas bravas ( which were executed perfectly with just the right mix of tangy tomato sauce and creamy aioli on top of crisp fried potato chunks) and tortilla to more Middle Eastern leaning dishes such as fried chickpeas, pumpkin and tahini yogurt or my personal stand out dish crispy aubergine with whipped feta and date molasses, every of the small dishes we shared was full of unexpected flavours, surprisingly light yet complex. Veggie choices were aplenty, far from an afterthought on the menu, and meant that on this occasion there was no need to fill up on side dishes so that once everything was polished off we were left satisfied yet not overly full, using the excellent flat bread served with the tapas to soak up any left over juices.
Dessert was a little disappointing but then for tapas style dining it is never to be a true focal point - the chefs too busy perhaps for intricate patisserie, the malaga raisin ice cream we shared fine but for me a little too boozy and overall unspectacular. That is the beauty however of being in a very foodie location- not quite done with the evening we commenced to have one last 'dessert' cocktail at Caravan a few doors up. Famed of course for roasting some seriously good coffee, we couldn't help but order a couple espresso martinis, martinis that couldn't have provided a better caffeine kick to end an evening full of culinary discoveries which perhaps I had been a little too lazy to make of late.
Was it worth it? Yes- go to Morito and order until there is no more space for plates even if you have to make a little break away from your usual eating out habits. It won't disappoint.