The place: Clockjack Oven, W1D 7HJ
The food: Rotisserie Chicken
I have vague memories of a holiday or two in Spain as a young child. What did my four-year old brain preserve for future reference? Well, it wasn’t where we went, or even any of the sights or sounds or smells. It only recorded two things.
Firstly, as seems common in human nature, it remembered something bad. It remembered the really bad tummy bug I got from eating lunch without washing my hands.
Secondly, and fortuitously unconnected to the former memory, it remembered the rotisserie chicken. It remembered the metal contraptions that would spin sizzling, succulent chicken round and round, over and over. This was then imprinted indelibly into my brain by my parents’ excitement over it, and their bemoaning of its absence in UK.
Identifying a gap in the market, Clockjack Oven has launched its first restaurant in Picadilly Circus, with ambitions to take over the world.
My friend and I arrived to find a startling empty restaurant – but it was early on a weekday night and Clockjack Oven is new – so it’ll understandably take some time to build up a reputation.
Clockjack’s menu is simple. It includes rotisserie chicken as ‘pieces’ or in a salad or bun, a few sides, a few drinks and a few desserts (vegetarians go home now).
We were really intrigued as to what constituted a ‘piece’ of chicken. Turns out, customers can choose the part of the chicken the would like to order, which inevitably (if you’re as childish as my friend and I) leads to the question of whether you prefer ‘legs’ or ‘breasts’.
Order made, we got to watch a clockjack oven in action, which looks like a chicken-carrousel around a bonfire, all in a glass case.
Dating from Tudor times, a clockjack oven is a particularly successful way of keeping chicken succulent and moist, or so our menu informed us.
And my first mouthful of chicken didn’t contradict this. It was very succulent indeed, although the seasoning was disappointing. It wasn’t bland, but it seemed like potential squandered.
All the pieces are served with home-made barbecue sauce and a ranch dip, which is similar . This is where Clockjack Oven really excelled. The barbecue didn’t have a horrendous artificial smoked flavour often prominent in barbecue sauces, but was tangy and moreish. The ranch dip was creamy and garlicky, without being overpowering. It was a tough choice to decide which I preferred.
The main problem with the chicken was the size. Three pieces cost £6.95 and four pieces cost £8.95. That doesn’t sound terrible until you consider that these prices are without sides and Clockjack seem to cook unusually small chickens. I think they must only use adolescent birds.
A side of chips costs £2.95 as did the coleslaw, which was chewy and flavourless.
Fancying dessert, we ordered a devilish chocolate torte with clotted cream ice cream (£4.45). It was a pure chocolate injection, but Clockjack had sadly run out of clotted cream ice cream, which I thought was a little poor form (although they adjusted the price accordingly).
Clockjack Oven 3/5
Whilst the chicken was expertly cooked and the sauces well concocted, there simply wasn’t enough food for the money. I just can’t see how people will choose this over Nando’s, given they can enjoy the latter for considerably less (even if the chicken isn’t as succulent). Prices and/or portions adjusted, I would happily go back.
Food 3/5 – Succulent chicken, but needs more seasoning. Great sauces. Avoid the coleslaw!
Service 5/5 – Very helpful and obliging.
Value 2/5 – Too pricey for size.
Atmosphere 2.5/5 – Comfortable, relaxed but definitely not buzzing.