VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
VENUE & ATMOSPHERE: 4.5/5
Disclaimer: All chicken served is halal, alcohol is served on the premises.
A whirlwind of depression hit me as I began to write my PhD thesis last week. I’d been working from home and staring at my screen from morning until night for the last week. I couldn’t see a way out. Then SA texted me telling me that she would be working from London that week and asked if I would be free to meet. After moving to East London from Birmingham a couple of weeks ago, I now had a completely new and diverse selection of halal restaurants to choose from, and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Ma’Plucker in London had been on my radar for a while. So it was a no brainer..best friend + fried chicken=2 birds, one stone. (pun intended.)
Ma’Plucker, a small restaurant in the heart of Soho, boasting serving some of the best American soul food in London, opened earlier this year. It was relatively close to where SA was working, so we met at Oxford street station, and following our best friend bear hug, we slowly made our way for dinner. Ironically located on ‘Beak street’ and just a stone’s throw away from Stax Diner, this diner was relatively easy to find. We were greeted at the door by a friendly waitress and seated immediately. Despite being a weekday evening (5.30pm) in central London, the restaurant was surprisingly empty. The waitress asked if we had been there before and when we said we hadn’t, she explained how the menu worked.
The menu operates on a three-way chicken basis: the idea was to choose a base (maple waffle/burger bun/salad) with roast chicken, crispy coated buttermilk dipped fried chicken or hickory spiced pulled chicken. You then had to choose a sauce from herb dressing, chipotle chilli sauce, chicken gravy, chilli maple or Kansas BBQ. You are then free to add sides, which range from your average fries to the more thematically suited seasonal (collard) greens, buttered corn, and fried mac n’ cheese. SA and I both opted for the same: the crispy fried chicken and maple waffle with chilli maple sauce. We weren’t that hungry therefore didn’t order any sides (which was a good call as the chicken and waffles were pretty filling in the end). To drink we just ordered a mix of cranberry and lemon iced tea.
The food arrived promptly after around 10 minutes on what can only described as a school dinner plate from the 90s. I would usually have something to say about a chipped plate but on this occasion I genuinely feel it added to the ‘American soul food’ experience. The meal consisted of 2 pieces of crispy battered fried chicken, half a waffle and a small pot of chilli maple sauce to drizzle as desired. What struck me was the fact that we were only served half a waffle, which in the end was cold and looked bought rather than made in-house. That did bother me slightly considering we paid almost £10 for chicken and waffles – such are London prices.
The chicken batter was crunchy and flavoursome and flaked off the underlying meat easily which was tender and moist. Overall the chicken had a ‘home cooked’ feel to it which I really enjoyed. I found that I had finished my iced tea before finishing my meal as the waffle was a bit dry (probably as it wasn’t fresh), and there wasn’t enough of it to go with the two generous portions of chicken breast. That being said I was full after finishing my meal. What really won me over was the chilli maple glaze. I was wowed by how the sweet spicy glaze pulled the entire meal together, as it complemented the salty crunchy texture of the fried chicken and softness of the maple waffle. After experiencing chicken and waffles at Stax Diner up the road, I can honestly say I prefer Ma’Plucker’s, simply because of the chilli maple sauce. Having never had pulled chicken before, I’m intrigued as to how it would complement a burger, so I think I would order this next time.
The waitresses checked on us 2-3 times to ensure that we were happy with our meal and even offered to take a picture of us after watching a few of our failed attempts to take a selfie. They also politely asked us to post our pictures on social media and tag them – I was happy to oblige.
Overall I was happy with the service and was somewhat blown away at the overall taste of the food. The concept of halal American soul food is still relatively new so this place already has a tick in the box for me. The disappointment lay in that I was expecting a whole, hot, fresh waffle for the price I paid, and SA mirrored this. With that in mind I’m not sure that I will be ordering the waffle again. Also, despite the decor being quite quirky and inviting, the atmosphere in the restaurant at the particular time we visited was somewhat non-existent.If you’re looking for a casual, quick meal with a friend after work, or for lunch on a weekend in London, Ma’Plucker is a more than decent place for chatting, chilling, and chicken.
Phone: 020 7096 2046