Love piri-piri chicken but can't justify pitching Nando's as your next date venue? We feel your pain. And have a solution. Fire and Feathers, the latest addition to Fulham Road has everything Nando's does, and then some. Atmosphere. Intimacy. Character. And we're calling it: better chicken. (Plus, the heightened likelihood of spying of a celeb or two thanks to the founder's bulging contact list.)
If we can't tempt you to venture all the way west for the chicken or the celebrities, let it be for the cocktails. Honestly, they're first class. None of this ice-filling-seven-eighths-of-the-glass malarkey nor mojitos that are too sweet to appreciate. The bar team here have got them just right. Strong, long and elaborately garnished with fauna and fruits. And reasonably priced too. You'd be hard pushed to find a giant beaker full of gin, fresh strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and ginger beer plus change from £7 anywhere else in Fulham. Seriously, move over Nando's.
Here's the backstory: Fulham local and social figure (he calls Poppy D and Sienna pals), Harry Deighton grew up spending every summer at the same Portuguese restaurant, feasting on the same spread of piri-piri chicken, salty skinny fries, and tomato and onion salad year in, year out. (If you've spent any time in the Algarve, you can probably relate, right?) Sacking off his City career, sharing his enjoyment of Portuguese cuisine with fellow Londoners became a priority. He searched far and wide for a spot before the perfect space — on his doorstep — became available. Meanwhile, he sent chefs out to Portugal to taste the chicken with the hope of recreating it, and after a year's worth of trial and error, just two weeks before opening, they settled for the perfect recipe.
Inside Fire And Feathers Restaurant
Not too much, not too little attention. Just how we like our waiters. They're keen to make menu suggestions, guide you to the bathroom and will fill your wine glass when it's looking a little empty, but won't position themselves as the third wheel on your date. As his first restaurant venture, founder, Harry is on hand supporting the floor staff. It isn't below him to take you to your table, which unlike most founders, is positively charming.
The decor and atmosphere:
Two weeks since it opened its doors, we're here on a Thursday night, soaked from the rain and the place is packed. Nor the rain or newness has put people off, there's not a table out the back that's empty and you'd be lucky to pull up a stool at the bar. (Take note, make a reservation.) It's a cute little place with decor that you'll want to Instagram and then recreate at home. Rustic wooden floorboards line the walls and floors, juxtaposed against panels of beautiful patterned ceramic tiles. The same floorboards make up booths which will sit four people or give you and your date some privacy.
Starving, we devour our nibbles plate which, authentically Portuguese, consisted of olives, garlic carrots, a tub of sardine pâté and sourdough bread. As Harry acknowledged, 'It is a little bit weird but it's exactly what they have over there'. Weird, but delicious. Next up, the garlic prawns. Inspired directly by his Portugal adventures, these are shell on, meaty beauties, drizzled in oil and topped with a generous sprinkling of sliced garlic. They. Are. Delicious. The only disappointing thing is that there's not a hundred more of them.
Delicious chicken wings
Moving swiftly on we indulge in the main event. We've been advised the chickens — free-range, corn-fed and all boasters of a happy life — are on the smaller side (they're poussin chickens if we're getting technical), so we order a whole to share with the piri-piri marinade (steering clear of the Dynamite option which we've be warned is blow-your-head-off hot), along with the sea bass. To balance out the protein, we go with Harry's recommendations for the full Portuguese experience: fries, the minted peas and tomato and onion salad. It quickly arrives and fills the table. We don't need to worry about leaving peckish. The chicken, served on the bone after being spatchcocked is succulent, juicy and flavoursome. It falls off the bone so there's no need to get your hands too dirty. And dipping our fingers in the Dynamite sauce, we know we made the right decision. (Warning: order with care.) The sea bass is fresh and simple, boneless and served on a bed of roast vegetables. The salty skinny fries, the fresh green peas and the zing of the tomato salad make for the perfect balanced dinner. This isn't unhealthy food, it's wholesome. Hence why the table next to us are here for the second time this week.
We didn't need dessert but it would be unjust not to finish the meal with something sweet so we go with two drinks off the dessert cocktails list. A good decision, Baileys, Kahlua and a shot of espresso in a martini glass is the ultimate grown up sweet treat.
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