The chap behind Red Rooster, Marcus Samuelsson, has himself a hit over in Harlem, USA with his original restaurant specialising in fried chicken. He’s now searching for similar success over here, in newly opened hotel and members club, The Curtain, on Curtain Road, Shoreditch.
We can only bag a 10:15pm reservation but being a Friday we think that pretty lucky. We’re taken down into the basement dining room, where the atmos is certainly lively. We’re led through a mosh pit at the bar, past some live music and out into a separate indoor garden.
It’s so dark I genuinely struggle to read the menu.
The two of us sit there, for 15 minutes, in the pitch black, at a table for four, with a view of the smoking area and a disabled refuge point (good luck getting your wheelchair past our table by the way), with the sweet sound of the singers only gracing our ears every time the door opens, before we’re able to place an order. And that’s only because we get up to find someone.
It literally is the rejects room which no one bothers serving.
We wouldn’t have ordered the “bird royale feast” (£44) had we known the whole deep fried chicken would arrive with a sparkler sticking out of it. Even worse, once the Instagram pics have been taken, the bird is taken back to the kitchen to be prepared, leaving a strong whiff of post-firework-display. Pointless much?
The bird itself (free range? from a fancy farm? Wouldn’t know, as they don’t tell you) is moist in some parts but flabby in others. The coating is crisp but oily making it sickly. It comes on a plate with waffles and southern biscuits (i.e. underbaked and over-crumbly scones) – all of which looks a right mess.
I could do with the sparkler to see what I’m bloody eating.
It’s late and we’re starving so we eat the chicken and leave the rest. A side of mac n cheese is ruined by the addition of tangy collared greens – creamy, gooey mac n cheese really doesn’t need tampering with. It also includes breadcrumbs so large and crunchy I mistake them for pieces of Lego.
We come close to pressing the disabled refuge alarm to get someone’s attention for the bill – even then I reckon they’d ignore us. We leave, £70 lighter, safe in the knowledge that sparklers in food really aren’t for us.
Would we go back? No.