Given the enduring popularity of the likes of Five Guys and Shake Shack, it was only a matter of time before another American chain muscled in on the London food scene. Slim Chickens is attempting to rule the roost from its new restaurant near Bond Street, although it’s yet to ruffle any major feathers.
The menu is kept simple in a way that suggests it’s aiming for the late night, post-pub crowd. Basic combinations of chicken burgers and wings, a bulging selection of sauces and various sides are displayed on menu boards above the tills, at decent prices — you can get a full meal and have change from a tenner. Yet the diner-style tables set it a step above your usual fried chicken haunts — you’re invited to linger a little longer rather than dashing out into the night, although takeaway is available.
The vibe of the place is an odd one, like it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. The diner-style tables hint at an Americana theme, but it’s a theme that’s not quite followed through. Elsewhere, music posters nod to the chain’s Deep South roots — it all began in Arkansas — but it’s got a long way to go before it’ll be giving the likes of Blues Kitchen any trouble. Most oddly though, are the TV screens which on the night of our visit are showing an important Champions League match — nothing wrong with that, it just feels a bit out of place.
The food arrives extremely quickly, our burgers, fries, sides and sauces all served in a basket. Kitchen roll is provided on the table, showing that there’s no standing on ceremony here. At the very least, it’s not a first date spot. The Texan Toast offers up an excellent opportunity to try a few of those 12 different dips, including some that you’d be unlikely to see elsewhere. Our tip? Get a few dips for the table and share them around. The garlic parmesan’s an excellent place to start if it’s comfort food you’re after, with cayenne ranch and Korean BBQ to tempt more adventurous diners.
We like to think we know our way round a buffalo chicken burger, and the offering here doesn’t disappoint. It’s not got as much kick to it as some of the other buffalo chicken burgers we’ve tried around London. Whether that’s a good thing or not is down to individual preference — we could have handled it a little bit hotter. That said, the buffalo to blue cheese ratio is on point, and the chicken coating is satisfyingly crunchy, as are the crispy onions on top.
If you’re into skin-on fries, you’ll do well here. For us though, it feels a little too healthy, an attempt at being a little too pure in a meal that’s otherwise drowning in grease — the good, dirty kind of grease. The honey BBQ sandwich is ideal for those who like their flavours a little tamer, although it’s not as innocent as it looks, the sticky glaze making those wads of kitchen roll a necessity.
Fancy it ain’t, but if it’s dirty, delicious chicken you’re after, Slim Chickens will hit the spot — be that as part of the night before, or the recovery process the morning after. Its location near Selfridges drops it in ideal post-shopping meal territory, and we can see ourselves swinging by after a night in the pub for a chicken fix. If it could sort out the vibe it’s going for, we see it rising through the ranks to become as popular as Five Guys.
Slim Chickens, 31 James Street, W1U UEA.