The days of healthy eating trends seem well and truly behind us as junk food becomes increasingly popular among beleaguered Londoners. Joe’s latest restaurant comes off the back of popular pizzeria Soho Joe, and this time it’s rotisserie chicken that's thrust into the limelight.
Cookhouse Joe may sound like your typical fast food joint, though it’s actually anything but. The low, dark blue canopy that overhangs the street sets the scene, with a couple of blackboards outside showcasing specials of the day. Inside, it’s surprisingly stylish with dark wooden tables and chairs given an opulent skew courtesy of candelabras on every table, lighting up the dark exposed brick that covers the walls. It’s borderline spooky and doesn’t entirely fit the cuisine, but still, it can’t be accused of not showing originality.
Cookhouse Joe has a laid back vibe typical of this type of cheap, grab ‘n’ go food. The service is friendly, certainly, but it’s not the sort of place you bring a date that you’re trying to impress – not unless they really love chicken. Being located in Soho, the clientele is a mix of anyone and everyone, from gay couples through to young media professionals. It’s also popular already with drinkers looking for easy grub to line their stomach.
Apparently the kitchen at Cookhouse Joe is capable of roasting up to 90 chickens at any one time. That may sound excessive until you look around at what your fellow customers are enjoying – chicken. Lots and lots of chicken.
However, the menu doesn’t entirely revolve around chicken – you can get beef, lamb and falafel burgers if you prefer, but that’s a little like going to Italy to enjoy a Sunday roast. Their rotisserie chicken is the best option, utilising free range chickens from the West Country, all served with either chilli, garlic or a cucumber and mint yogurt sauce.
It’s also very well priced with a whole chicken costing just £12, half £7 or a quarter just £4. You can also order a range of Lebanese, Greek and Turkish side dishes, all costing £4 and including halloumi, falafel and tabbouleh. However, the best time to visit is at lunchtime, when you can indulge in the lunch special of half a chicken with chips and a choice of salad, sweetcorn or coleslaw, all for just £6.
This is incredible value for money. The chicken is moist, tender and delicate and works well with the slightly-charred, buttery corn. The food arrives in a metal tray, all plonked in rustic style, giving what is basically upmarket KFC a kitsch edge. It’s very cleverly done.
For what is essentially a chicken shop, Cookhouse Joe has its drink offering spot on. They make a mean coffee here (either to drink in or take away) at a - frankly astounding - price of just £1.50. You’ll struggle to find as decent a cup of Joe anywhere else in London for that price. On top of this they also offer alcohol for when you’re in the mood with a ‘Pimms O’ Clock’ happy hour between 12pm and 6pm when all large Pimms jugs are just £10. If you can get out of work early enough it’s fantastic value for money.
The Last Word
Cookhouse Joe is a great addition to London’s growing number of cheap eats. Go at lunch for the chicken and a cheap jug of Pimms and marvel at how much money you’ve saved.