As a nation we don’t really ‘do’ chicken, do we? Not in the way we do burgers for example, there’s been a wave of specialist burger restaurants in the past few years – gourmet burgers, pimped burgers, burgers that look like they’ve eaten other burgers. You name it, you can get it now! But if you fancy a decent hit of chicken you’re talking Nandos, KFC or a chicken shop… basically drunk food best suited for some ungodly hour and with a side of regret (we’ve all been there). But if you fancy some high quality fried (or grilled) chicken that doesn’t make you hate yourself a bit there hasn’t really been an option.. until now!
Opening in Bristol on Friday 26th January is the first ‘Happy Bird’ chicken restaurant, located handily in one of the units of Clifton Down shopping centre. Mr TGE and I were invited along for a preview evening to try a sample of the menu. The restaurant itself is very modern and cool with plenty of neon lights and a focus on recycling and sustainability. Great care has been taken when designing the restaurant to keep things as green as possible – for example all of the tables are made from recycled materials and they’ve purposely chosen metal cutlery to reduce waste in the restaurant and recyclable bamboo cutlery for takeaway/delivery orders.
Of course the greatest care has been taken over sourcing the chicken itself and we were introduced to Edward, the lovely Yorkshire farmer who supplies the restaurant. Coming from a small family run farm in Yorkshire the chicken is fed high quality corn, fresh herbs and are all totally free range. There’s a clear passion for ethical farming from all involved. The result is higher welfare chickens who live twice as long as the chickens you would buy in the supermarket. Similarly the style of food is also something the team take pride in – you can absolutely get a whopping fried chicken burger here but you also have the option of grilled with a hearty salad, it’s your choice.
Luckily for us we didn’t have to choose as we had everything! Mr TGE, hero that he is, gallantly tried out the cocktail and beer menu while I stuck to the soft drinks. The ‘sunset spritz’ a vodka based cocktail went down particularly well I’m told, as did the Pig & Porter ‘Whispering Bob’ beer. To kick things off food wise we started with wings in a honey and chili glaze alongside a green salad with grilled chicken tenders and a super bean salad with halloumi. I bloody love wings, they’re a total weakness for me and I have absolutely no shame when eating them – life is just too short to attempt to eat wings politely. I did myself absolutely proud on these bad boys, they were succulent, juicy and full of flavour. I loved the glaze on them which was massively moreish. Served with a few of the house sauces I favoured the spicy ‘portugeezer’ while Mr TGE loved the creamy cool ‘tarragoner’.
Next up was a platter of the main events including a whopping chicken leg, chicken tenders, house/dirty and naked fries (half covered in melted cheese, hot sauce and bacon bits, half plain), spicy rice, a fried chicken burger and a grilled chicken burger. Nom nom nom. All of the chicken served was juicy and tender but my particular favourite was the fried chicken leg – what a beast of a chicken he must have been! The coating was crisp and full of flavour and happily not oily at all, we were very impressed. The grilled chicken burger was lovely but I preferred the fried chicken for that extra flavour hit. Everything was so fresh and we liked having the option of a substantial tasty salad and the spicy flavourful rice as side dishes too, so many fast food or takeaway options are relentlessly unhealthy so Happy Bird makes a very pleasant change.
We chatted extensively with the staff during the meal who all clearly have a real passion for what they’re doing and know a huge amount about the food they’re serving. We were particularly interested to find out about the delivery options as they won’t be using Deliveroo. Instead they’ve employed their own specific delivery drivers who will all be trained on the origin of the food and the menu they’re delivering. They’ve also got their own special Happy Bird electric mopeds (keeping things green!) so you’ll see them whizzing around the city soon.
We ended the night with a thick milkshake (recyclable cups and straws of course!), strawberry for Mr TGE and chocolate for me. There was the intriguing option of a chicken salt milkshake but I was more than happy with chocolate.
Overall we had a great time with the Happy Bird team and were genuinely impressed by the menu and the quality of the food, we’ll absolutely be putting an order in when they open officially on Friday 26th Jan. Extra wings please!
Incidentally we popped along to the nearby Her Majesty’s Secret Service cocktail bar for a quick drink before our chicken feast, what a treat! They knocked up a fairly gorgeous mocktail that tasted just like an amaretto sour for me and Mr TGE loved his vesper. Also kudos to the lovely man who served us who managed to look only mildly horrified when we genuinely asked if it would be ok to come back with baby TGE once he’s arrived so we could enjoy a pre-dinner drink then…? #parentingpriorities. It was the politest no you can imagine.
Please note: this experience was received free of charge but this didn’t impact my opinion and I was under no obligation to write a positive review. No review is shared with the venue before publication.