It’s a tough old world out there for the would be restauranteur. New venues appear in the blink of an eye and before I’ve had time to finish tying my laces they’ve closed again. I’m not even that slow at laces (I don’t actually need the bunny ear method anymore, I just like it ‘cos it’s fun). Nowhere is this perilous existence more apparent that the long frontage of 10 Exchange Street which has seen a handful of quite serviceable restaurants and refurbishments recently but has now undergone a new makeover. Its most recent incarnation is the exciting and much anticipated new venture of those fried chicken fanatics, Woolf & Bird.

ATMOSPHERE Tere is no unified ‘look’ to the place - its long low rooms spread out deceptively far back from the front door and offer a number of different dining spaces from a mostly conventional wooden tabled dining room through to an industrial looking cocktail bar. We sat at a white bench table in a colourful area with potted plants and bead curtains invoking a curiously sanitised garden. From the murals at the front to this avant-garden at the back, it’s a cool place. It’s the sister venue of the Woolf and Social restaurant on Nelson Street, and a permanent home for Woolf & Bird’s award winning fried chicken pop up. While the former skilfully pushes Norwich’s culinary horizon, this is more about having fun with your food.

THE MAIN EVENT Do you like fried chicken?

Do you like the crisp light golden brown skin? Te way it glistens as it catches the harsh overhead lights or the slight resistance it offers at the bite before yielding to release a mouthful of smoked flavour? Do you like the soft white tender tendrils of meat as they cling lovingly to


the bone savouring their final embrace? Do you like the carnal and primal act of devouring the meat from the bone, holding it in your bare hands?

Sorry, I had a bit of a moment there. Sort of embarrassing really. I’m not sure what came over me. In a post culinary petit mort I’m embarrassed by my previous effusive and wanky outburst. As usual I fill with shame and try to deal with the aftermath of my insatiable appetite and the mess that I have created. Grease smears my mouth, face and fingers... no amount of lemon scented moist towels will be able to cut through it. Still, deep down I am left with a deep satisfaction and a pleasant warmness of the spices on my tongue.

To answer the question though... of course you love fried chicken. Who doesn’t? Who wouldn’t after a visit to Woolf & Bird? Tere are other things on the menu... a few at least (the menu is rather small) but it would sort of miss the point if a basket of chicken didn’t feature somewhere in your visit.

From the select menu I chose the Korean wings. Te rich smoky flavour of the

fried chicken was more than enough but was cut through with the sharp salty soy and black vinegar sauce. Not a sauce I’d had with chicken before, but a great pairing. For a company who have made their name with fried chicken the dish is undeniably excellent and bears little similarity to Kentucky fried rivals. With slices of pickled chilli sprinkled on top it’s a great way to eat chicken.

With that we also had their Norfolk Dapple croquettes, deliciously breaded smoked Norfolk cheese croquettes, the sole vegetarian offering but, like the rest of the menu, they were dirty, delicious and full of flavour. Talk from the restaurant of future hopes to create a vegan fried chicken is something to keep an eye out for!

Te sides offer a really great selection and add some contrast to the otherwise quite limited menu. Tey stick with some very sharp flavours which work nicely to counter the oftentimes cloying stickiness of the chicken wings. Te seasonal slaw offers a welcome dash of green and vegetable with a sharp vinegary flavour while the smacked cucumber had a hot szechan taste. Both big flavours. Te chips are great but are really just an excuse to eat my own weight in their delicious blue cheese sauce. I hate myself but I love that damn sauce.

OVERALL No desserts so our visit ended there. Te menu will be seasonal and grow and change, and to mirror this the cocktail bar offers a wide variety of drinks which too will change to compliment the food offer and the seasonal produce available. Tey’re all about that local sourced thing. Tis is a cracking spot for a quick bite to eat at lunch or after work. Perhaps expensive compared to similar places but the price is fairly reflected in the quality of the food.

James MacDonald


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