It's a poultry offering, but reviewer Kim Knight is not crying completely fowl.
Book. Book, book, book. BOOOOK. It's the annual Canvas books issue. Of course I had chicken.
Boy & Bird opened in 2014 but, for whatever reason, I missed the (gravy) boat. It was one of those places I meant to visit, but then Auckland got barbecue, then it got Korean and then there was chicken on every corner. The novelty had worn off and I was contractually obliged to move on and eat jackfruit tacos and cheese made from cashew nuts.
Hurray, then, for this book-themed issue. Eating and reading are natural bedfellows. I hope that right now, for example, you're devouring these words under a high thread-count cotton sheet with a side of scrambled free-range eggs.
Where to review? I thought about taking a book to dinner and feeding my soul. I researched "restaurants that used to be libraries" (for the record, I rate Galbraith's for a pub lunch). I wondered if consuming sophisticated bar snacks while working my way through the canon of cocktails named for American authors who hated women would fit the theme. I went down a reading-and-eating rabbit hole and started thinking about the books that had stuck. It was Ronald Hugh Morrieson who made me scared of the provinces. That opening line that starts like this: "The same week our fowls were stolen ..."
And suddenly, there I was. Chicken! (With apologies to Fiona Farrell, who actually called her reading and writing memoir Book Book and put a chicken on the cover).
I know I should be talking about food, not books. I've seen the complaints. Reviewers who take forever to get to the entree. Who do they think they are - Dickens? (Never enough food in his books).
So, the chicken. It was not the best of times (an honour that still belongs to Headquarters) and it was not the worst of times. It was a beach-read of a chicken. Chick lit.
Boy & Bird was created by Michael Van de Elzen, the chef who rose to fame on television's healthy eating show The Food Truck. He closed the chapter on this episode of his life some time ago but a trawl through the Herald archives reveal many of the original dishes survive.
The star of my $19 "quarter" box was definitely the rotisserie chook - a smallish serve but the meat was very plump and the skin was very herby. It came with gravy that was too nuanced for my salt-seeking taste buds, coleslaw that could have had more dressing and potato "chunkies" that were, literally, chunks of potato. Nice chicken, tired sides. Could I have done this dinner better at home? Yes.
James' deep -fried buttermilk chicken on a hot brioche roll got an intriguing lift from a scattering of spicy bhuja mix. It was something you might happily eat for lunch, but at $19 it is a pay-day only lunch.
Vegetables. I thought we should have more, so there was a dish of charred zucchini ($8). It came with a tomato and walnut "crumble" that was brown-sugary sweet. It was too early for pudding and there may, in fact, never be a right time for this dish. A good idea that needs work. (We did have dessert - the $14 lemon tart came with pastry so short and biscuity it should have been stamped with a Girl Guide trefoil. I suspect the curd filling had been a very late addition to the party).
We had also shared an entree, which had arrived with our mains. The menu runs to legume-based koftas and spiced cauliflower fritters but nobody ever wrote a book called Cauliflower Soup for the Soul. Crispy Korean spiced chicken thigh ($15) tasted as succulent as it sounds and held its crunch admirably under a dollop of "aromatic" kimchi. Great textures, gutsy flavours, I'd definitely eat this again. Winner, winner chicken dinner - but throw the book at those sides.