I couldn’t make it to the preview of Rebel Chicken because I was too busy
eating Melbourne out of burgers visiting my sister and meeting my new niece. But I thought it looked cool and worth telling people about. So I figured I’d ask someone who I pretty much only know on Twitter but I knew would have good opinions being he’s the King of Digbeth, which we know is the epicentre of street food in Birmingham. He once called me out on something which I can’t remember, but I remember thinking if I ever decide to pick on people to help guest blog on here, Andy will be on the list. And because you usually get plus ones to these things, Andy brought his friend Tim who I do not know, but if Andy rates him, I’m willing to believe he knows his stuff too.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, Rebel Chicken is a new chicken restaurant, cocktail bar and beer garden in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. They are, apparently, fanatical about chicken; we’re talking twice-marinated, spit-roasted, free range, locally sourced, and expertly prepared – they’ve even employed a charcoal sommelier. Which is a job title I bet no one’s careers teacher ever told them about.
You can choose between stuff like a quarter, half or whole chicken; wings, including buffalo hot wings; and then things like veggie bean burgers or Caesar salad sharer if you’re the sort of masochist who goes to a chicken restaurant but doesn’t eat chicken.
Anyway, enough of me, over to Andy to tell us about the food…
“The main menu is a mix of either rotisserie chicken or the wings. You can choose a quarter, half or full roast chicken (I’d suggest the full is a sharer – it was massive) or a selection of coated and battered wings.
“The roast chicken itself was my fave – I’m not good with wings (I’m crap with messy fingers), so was looking forward to this element. The chicken itself was moist and slightly salty with a good helping of delicious crispy skin on. I must admit, I thought the whole Cuban coal/sweet cherry wood thing was a gimmick, but if it was responsible for the flavour then it’s well worth the money they must be spending on it. Easily the tastiest chicken I’ve had in a long time.
“The wings were good though – once I’d dissected them with my cutlery! We had a selection of the BBQ and ‘hot’ wings – the BBQ sauce was tasty and not overly sweet or smoky, just about right. The ‘hot’ wings were good too – made with birds eye chillies so not overly hot (though I am known for my ability to do the dorset naga), I’d say just about right for all palates with a nice after-heat. The chef mentioned he was thinking of doing a hotter sauce too though.
“Then sauces for the chicken – aside from the hot sauce and BBQ, they had a really good chipotle sauce, a simple brown gravy (not mind-blowing but functional) and an aioli which I didn’t try.
“Running it past Tim though, a wing pro, I asked him to compare it to the wings at Bonehead, and he without hesitation said these wings were a thousand times better. And he enjoyed Bonehead’s wings!
“On an aside, in terms of comparing to Bonehead, I would say the two can co-exist nicely, since Rebel don’t offer any burgers and as a chicken burger lover, I could happily go to either – Bonehead’s burgers are insanely good.”
[I asked Andy about the sides and desserts too and it seems that the chips/fries and charred corn are both fine, but pretty standard but the hero of the dish (sorry, too much Australian masterchef) is the slaw.]
“the slaw was sensational. Was a simple red cabbage slaw with a delicious dressing, and if I’m right, a hint of coriander. I’d thoroughly recommend it and it went a treat with the roast chicken adding some much needed crunch.
“Dessert wise, we tried a really decent cheesecake – was a caramel one as I recall, and the home made waffles in a caramel sauce which were good. Though after all that chicken there wasn’t too much room – fortunately these puddings weren’t too heavy though.”
[I also wanted to know what the atmosphere and vibe was like, which is tricky to figure out on a preview night but it sounds good]
“Vibe was very good. The décor in the upstairs dining area was stripped back walls with a clean and airy vibe with big windows (it reminded me a bit of the old Comida 21 room) and the bar downstairs whilst a wee bit cramped was smart and there were some nice armchairs at the one end.
“The outdoor space is the one they’ll probably push as there was plenty of outdoors tables, and it’s a big big space to capitalise upon in the summer. Though conversely, how that will work in the winter remains to be seen.
“It is good informal or last minute dining, or as an alternative to the multitudes of street food events, with friendly (albeit very new to the game) waitresses and Tim and I both agreed we would revisit for a Saturday night pre-night out meal. Tim even said he would definitely use it for a first date as the food would impress, it wouldn’t be too showy or pricey and it would be a non-pressure environment.
“Would be good for families that were on a day out in the JQ visiting the touristy bits or shopping for rings and so on, and they’re dog friendly too so that’s always a plus in my eyes!“
People ask me about dog-friendly places a lot, which makes sense because they’re flippin adorable, so this is good to know. In fact I get asked so often that I decided to start a page to group them so I don’t have to keep trying to remember them. Anyway, over to Andy for the summary of if Rebel Chicken is any good…
“Overall, it was a very good first experience and I can imagine it’ll get better as it starts to come together and they gain more experience. I think they pretty much do what they say on the box and they’re not re-inventing the wheel or anything but in terms of simple but quality chicken, they’re going to be hard to beat and I wish them well.”
Sounds good to me. I’ll try and head down to check it out soon, once I’m over the sheer amount of burgers I ate in Melbourne.
Rebel Chicken can be found at 5, 19 Pitsford St, Birmingham B18 6LJ, and from next month they’ll be joined by their sister venue next door, a Desi pub called Rebel Desi. Their website is http://therebelchicken.co.uk/
Andy, who I roped into guest posting, is King of Digbeth, regularly eats burgers (which is probably why I follow him) and often posts pictures of dogs (that’ll definitely be the reason I follow him). He also takes cool pictures around Digbeth and other bits of Birmingham, especially of the graffiti and such. You should follow him on social media things like DJ Colatron on Twitter or Colatron on Instagram. I’ve no idea who Tim is, so if you want to follow him on stuff, ask Andy.