Le Coq is a restaurant that specialises in spit roast chicken and is based in Islington – the Highbury and Islington end that is, it’s quite a walk from Angel tube station! Seeing as we don’t venture out of Soho or London Bridge that often plus the fact that I love a bit of chicken, we thought we’d give it a go.
It’s based in a former Chinese restaurant, not that you’d know it as it now has a pub vibe going on. Wooden tables and chairs packed closely together created a lively and bustling atmosphere which was most pleasant and the open kitchen filled the air with the aroma of chicken. We were told of a 45 minute wait for a table but after a quick beer in the cramped bar area, our table was ready.
The simple menu was on the wall and only two courses (£16) or three courses (£20) were available which we thought was a bit cheeky – what if we only wanted the chicken?
We ordered some kikones to nibble on which were the driest things known to mankind – a good gulp of water was needed after each mouthful. If you’re unfamiliar with kikones (I’ve never heard of them either) they’re just deep fried corn kernels which didn’t seem worthy of their £2.50 price tag.
As neither of the two starters appealed to us we jumped straight to the star of the show – the rotisserie Sutton Hoo chicken served with purple sprouting broccoli and orzo. The chicken itself was cooked really well; majorly moist and full of flavour but my biggest bugbear was the skin wasn’t crispy! Sacre bleu! How can you specialise in chicken and then serve soggy, slightly chewy and gelatinous skin? A positive however was the extra jug of chicken gravy which went down a storm. The orzo (a rice-shaped pasta which was a bit like risotto) and the crunchy broccoli was an unusual accompaniment for the chicken and made for a pleasant change from chips.
The side of rotisserie potatoes (£3.75) could have been a little crispier but were at least full of chickeny flavour and were well seasoned.
We found the selection of desserts a tad limiting; yoghurt tart with oranges or two scoops of ice cream. The tart was refreshingly delicious – I’d never had a yoghurt tart before but would definitely like to have it again. Brilliant pastry too. The caramel bourbon ice cream however was so bitter it was grimace inducing – sadly an overpowering flavour of burnt caramel ruined every mouthful.
We had an enjoyable time at Le Coq but I think that was because of the copious amounts of alcohol we had consumed beforehand. The chicken was tasty (apart from that flabby skin) and the orzo made for an interesting pairing but I think that a one course option should be available OR they should offer a wider selection of starters and puddings. It wasn’t a disaster but I think it could be a lot better…