The connotations that usually come to my head when someone mentions fried chicken is normally fast food outlets, with me at the front of the queue ordering the biggest, most ridiculous bargain bucket to myself to ease my aching hangover; followed by licking the grease from my fingers before slipping into a food coma. I wonder why I am still single.
However, when I stumbled across Wings Diner on twitter, I was intrigued. Asian inspired fried chicken. It sounded amazing. So, after looking at the sample menu and thinking it was right up my street, I booked myself onto their next pop-up, situated at The Canteen on Gloucester Road. 3 courses for £20 and bring your own alcohol. If all else failed, it was a bargain to say the least.
I arrived to discover the setting was intimate and simple. Based upstairs in the community kitchen of Hamilton House, a table for 20 of us was set, so everyone would be eating together. Name badges added a nice personal touch and I was looking forward to meeting everybody and having good conversation over our meal (for those that know me know I love a good chinwag). The guy running the show, Kev, was busy in the kitchen with his team preparing the food whilst the atmosphere at the dining table was warm and friendly. By way of background, Kev decided to jack in his normal 9-5 job in order to fulfil his passion for cooking and is currently organising pop-ups around Bristol.
Our starter arrived; a mix of vegetarian and prawn rolls made with rice vermicelli and fresh vegetables served with a classic nuoc cham dip. The rolls were very big and incredibly fresh, the vegetable one was particularly enjoyable with the softness of the roll and vermicelli working nicely with the crunch of the carrots and peppers stuffed inside. The nuoc cham dip was light and aromatic with plenty of green herbs and it worked fantastically as an accompaniment.
With the starter down, the natural lighting had dimmed and all of the guests chatted amongst the candlelight. I really enjoying eating in this fashion, it is always great to meet new people and I also happened to be sat alongside some of Kev’s family and friends, who had never tried his cooking before so it was lovely to see how impressed they were.
Our main arrived on a charcoal slate and consisted of three juicy pieces of tender buttermilk chicken, fried twice and served with blue rice, Asian slaw and two dipping sauces; we had one mango based dip and another fiery chilli one. The fried chicken was fantastic; it was delicious and incredibly juicy but not greasy at all. The blue rice worked well with this and it was quite sticky, which I personally enjoy. The portions were extremely generous but you know me, I finished it off and felt very satisfied. This was next level fried chicken that no fast food outlet could contend with. My personal favourite out of the two dips was the spicier of the two, as it added a real kick.
Dessert was a vanilla and chocolate baked cheesecake and it was heaven. Even more so when half way through you hit a mound of chocolate in the middle; it was very indulgent and rich. I am a big chocolate (and cheesecake) fan so this was my perfect dessert to finish off the meal. Again, Kev did not hold back on portions and everyone got a healthy slab.
It was a lovely evening indulging in great food and company and although some may shy away from this sort of dinner setting, I would recommend it as a great way to meet fellow foodies and experience something a little bit different. Kev clearly took plenty of time over his food and it was incredibly tasty; I admired how he has taken a simple main ingredient but given it a bit of a twist. Simple and fuss free, there was no pretention with this pop-up. If you like Asian inspired cuisine with a bit of a difference then keep your eyes out for the next event and let me know what you think.