Roast chicken has always been a massive hit in my house, with my twins Kit and Natasha citing it as their all time favourite food, ever! So when the opportunity arose to visit LeCoq, a restaurant whose main claim to fame is its incredibly flavoursome rotisserie-cooked free range chicken, the children couldn’t put their shoes and coats on fast enough. Luckily for us, we live just a 10-minute bus ride from the restaurant’s St Paul’s Road location – a once inauspicious street full of Indian takeaways and pizza joints but now home to several chi chi cafes and restaurants, with LeCoq situated just a few doors down from that other fashionable eatery, Trullo.
On the chilly November night of our visit, LeCoq stood out like a welcoming beacon where warmth and sustenance promised to be in plentiful supply judging from the animated diners that we spied through the large arched windows. Upon entering we were immediately captivated by the laid-back, relaxed vibe as a casually attired maître de greeted us with a welcoming smile and showed us to our wooden table nestled cosily in the corner.
Once seated our charming French waitress for the evening came over and greeted us before explaining the small but meticulously curated dishes on offer. On the set menu, which changes weekly, there is always a choice of three starters and three desserts, but so lauded is the Sutton Hoo chicken (poultry that’s lovingly reared at Kennel Farm in Suffolk) it takes not just top, but only billing on the mains (other spit roasted delights are available on Sundays however). Acknowledging the smaller members of our party, she also explained the children’s menu of chicken (white or brown meat or a mixture of both) plus roast potatoes cooked in the dripping juices followed by artisanal gelato better known to Kit and Natasha as ice cream.
Already salivating at the prospect of our imminent feast, we ordered drinks while my husband and I settled on starters. Once our order was placed and our jug of water and wine delivered, we settled back to enjoy the atmosphere (well we did, while the children, I’m ashamed to admit, played on our mobiles). Our senses were further aroused by the mouthwatering smell of slowly roasting chicken, a gentle reminder, as if one was needed, of the delights to come.
We’d opted for bresaola with rocket and Persian meatballs with pistachio and pomegranate to start. These were duly delivered to our table where they didn’t remain for very long. Ineffectively trying to fend the children off, we devoured everything in just a few minutes. The rich burgundy-coloured bresaola was among the best we’ve ever tasted, while the meatballs, served atop harissa-flavoured yoghurt were simply sublime (I’m planning on replicating this dish at home).
Aware of our hunger (well who wouldn’t be after our descending on the starters like vultures), the waitress was soon serving up the mains. The plates had barely touched the table before the children were tucking into their previously described meals, accompanied by a little jug of juices. Their silence, interspersed with the occasional “mmmm” says it all really. But in the interests of thorough reviewing I can happily report that whatever Kennel Farm is doing to those birds, they should keep on doing it (evidently it only allows 213 chickens per hectare of outside space, while the EU states that 10,000 can still be deemed “free range”).
The resulting taste of these once happy chickens is beyond comparison to the watery, tasteless fodder that usually masquerades as such. Meltingly tender, the meat slid off the bone and had a flavour punch that veered just towards the right side of gamey. The skin was also a revelation. Generally none of us tend to like this part of the bird, finding it far too greasy, but in this instance it was irresistible, being beautifully brown and crispy and perfectly seasoned. The saffron rice dish that accompanied our mains was similarly faultless.
By this stage we were well and truly satiated, but with the children committed to their ice cream, we thought it only fair to join them by sharing a plate of cheese, a Le Cousin to be exact, and again lovingly sourced from the nearby La Fromagerie.
Our meal over, I nipped downstairs with Natasha to pay a quick visit to the ladies where we stumbled across the gorgeous grotto that is LeCoq’s private dining room. All dusky hues with a glitter-ball style alcove and seating for up to 14, it would make an intimate and stylish venue for that special occasion, and what’s more, it’s completely free to hire. Come to think of it, I have a milestone birthday coming up in the not too distant future and now I know exactly where I want to celebrate it. We will be back!
For reservations and enquiries call 020 7359 5055 or visit www.le-coq.co.uk