Chicken & chips. In the words of the world’s wisest piece of crockery, the all-knowing Mrs. Potts, it’s a tale as old as time and for good reason – it just works. However like many things that should just work, the potential is there for it to fail on a spectacular level but thanks to Clockjack Oven, you don’t need to worry about that in London.
This small but brilliant restaurant is 5 minutes’ walk from Piccadilly Circus tube as the chicken flies and wing on heart, I’d walked past it dozens of times before without ever stopping to take note. I shan’t make that mistake again. Picked in no small part thanks to a bunch of enthusiastic reviews from my frankly fabulous fellow Time Out Tastemakers, on paper Clockjack seemed to tick all the boxes for a mid-week supper; centrally located, takes reservations, reasonably priced menu, awesome sounding food. Trust me when I say that places catering to all of requirements in London are getting fewer and further between so if you find somewhere that does, make a note, share it with others, be thanked forever.
Bright & bold orange awnings beckoned like a beacon of hope on a cold, dark Wednesday evening and the cheery welcome was most appreciated. Wooden tables and bare bricks satisfied the shabby-chic dress code currently rampant in London restaurants and the scent of deliciously roasting, crispy skinned bird was on the air.
Unbeknownst to us, we had booked a table on ‘Wings Wednesday’ when all varieties are 50% off so the place was packed tighter than Jane Austen’s corset. This didn’t affect staff attitude in any way though; an explanation of the menu and the star of it – yup, that’d be you, rotisserie chicken – was given by a man upon whom I must bestow the title of ‘smiliest chap in London’ and service was prompt & enthusiastic throughout.
We started our fowl feast with Buttermilk Chicken Bites and ranch sauce – is it just me or does anyone else have to stop themselves from throwing bucket loads of ranch on everything they eat?! – and honestly, I could have ordered another portion or six of those bad boys and finished the evening happy. Soft on the inside and warmly, comfortingly, roughly crunchy on the outside, they were fantastic and it took every ounce of ladylike restraint not to pilfer the plate and guard it fiercely like some sort of buttermilk obsessed Gollum.
Served in quarter, half or whole servings, the rotisserie chicken at our neighbours table looked every bit as glossy, plump & dribble inducing as it should do but this evening for us belonged to the Pulled BBQ Chicken Burger and the Club Sandwich, both accompanied by the seemingly eternal chip du jour, sweet potato fries. The burger was behemoth in size and sat resplendent on a mound of coleslaw & pickles in a shiny brioche bun. The meat was incredibly tender and the sweet stickiness of the BBQ sauce paired nicely with the crunchy tang of the slaw.
The club sandwich was no less statuesque – you know food with toothpick scaffolding is gonna get messy – or delicious with mounds of shredded chicken layered between smoked bacon, crisp lettuce & juicy tomato. There was a definite need to loosen the belt at the halfway point as my fellow poultry lover and I switched dishes so consider this your official notification that portions are big and chances are high you’ll leave here with a big ole bread baby.
Superb value with mains under £9 and whole chickens under £20, it’s not hard to see why so many people had noses pressed to window pane as they wandered by, doubled back & then sank to their knees, shaking their fists to the sky at the sheer bad luck of there being no free tables. If you’re constantly on the lookout for cheap eats that more than satisfy, Clockjack should be firmly placed on your list.