When a trip to celebrate a birthday in London inadvertently crosses something off the culinary bucket list…
American cuisine seems to be all about combining foods you wouldn’t ordinarily see together. Bacon, bananas and pancakes, for example. We love them for it, of course – these unexpectedly-successful odd couplings are part of what makes food and the evolution of cuisine so continually interesting. I mused on a few we had come across in the past in a recent article for Feast, which you can read here.
I have enjoyed the idea of sweet on savoury, such as the pairing of maple syrup with chicken. Our adventure in Brighton at the start of the year, staying at the Jury’s Inn may have put a brief stop to that. But I still could not deny myself the chance to try some Chicken and Waffles when the chance was thrown at me. It has been on my list of things to try practically ever since I heard they were a thing!
Celebrating my good friend Fahim’s birthday in London presented the opportunity, with his recommendation of Ma’ Plucker on the aptly-named Beak Street in Soho serving as the venue. James Boxall and opera singer-in-training Aaron Hayes also joined us.
Despite having a bright blue exterior, it’s the sort of restaurant you have to be looking for to find. We were asked if we had a booking despite being the only people who were in the restaurant – due diligence on the staff’s part, I guess. Once we had cleared that part up, we were invited to sit down and take our order.
The main feature on the menu is, of course, chicken and waffles, though other options such as wraps and burgers also exist. But why would you pay them any attention given the alternative? The order comes in three stages. First, your chicken – rotisserie, slow and low pulled, or the good old-fashioned crispy coated fried kind. Then what you want it served with, salad or bun options are there but you will always want the maple waffle. Finish it off with the sauce choice; accompany the waffle with the maple chilli glaze. The below is what they bring you:
That option – the Buttermilk-dipped Chicken Thighs with all the trimmings – costs £8. It may not seem like too much but considering how filling it was, I won’t sniff at the value.
All four of us had roughly the same thing, so I’m focusing on the above-pictured for the purposes of this review. I mount the dish’s success on how the elements work in combination. The chicken, while delectably crispy and succulent inside lacked a certain je ne sais quoi (to effect an old cliché). They lacked a wow factor that would ordinarily make a diner go “Mmm” upon taking the first bite.
Covering it with the bearably-spicy maple chilli glaze took the mind away from that fact and led me to focus on how good the two things tasted together. The waffles added further savoury substance to the overall dish and made a refreshing change to the buns and lettuce leaves we’re used to. It’s a fantastic combination and I heartily recommend it.
There is only so much variety one can throw on a menu of a restaurant of its size, but I still feel as though there could have been more options. Furthermore, the service was only as attentive as it felt it needed to be. Other than that, Ma’ Plucker is wholly deserving of its sterling reputation and I know this won’t be my only visit.