Sunday, 29 March 2009

Whitechapel/Aldgate branch review

Fried chicken fans are not left wanting in the Whitechapel area of London. A short stroll up Whitechapel road and the evidence is clear, with both sides of the street awash with the kind of eateries that could have quite easily featured in Dave's Rogues Gallery post - Perfect Fried Chicken (PFC), Perfect Fried Chicken 2 (PFC2), and Trio Fried Chicken to name but a few. I have had the misfortune of visiting PFC2 late one night (under the influence I should add) and it was not a pleasant experience, neither in terms of service nor food.

Alas, there is hope. Like a shining beacon, Whitechapel KFC stands out as a refuge for any hungry passer-by who demands the kind of quality that only the colonel can provide.

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On first inspection, Whitechapel KFC seems somewhat of a mixed bag. Externally, the signage is modern and uses the 08/09 branding. Internally the fittings are also up-to-date, but as is so often the case in these areas of central London, space is at a premium. This was especially noticeable during the lunchtime rush when it's not unusual to enter the front door and immediately join the back of the queue for a till. My recommendation here would be to take away rather than eat in - you're unlikely to find a seat anyway on the small 2 seater tables or limited bar seating.

Things took a turn for the up though when I arrived at the front of the queue to place my order. Front of house staff were pleasant and helpful, working efficiently to get my order to me as quickly as possible (and within the official 5 minute service deadline). This is a busy location with lots of offices close by, so I'm sure they are well trained and used to dealing with a quick customer turn-around and large quantity orders. I opted for a Wicked Zinger Box Meal (towered up) and picked up a Boneless Banquet for a colleague.

This brings me to one of the most interesting features of the Whitehchapel branch. Standing at the right-hand till, I soon noticed that the burger construction station was not out back in what would normally be the kitchen area, but just a few feet from the service counter (I can only assume that this unusual layout is due to the limited floor space). In the picture I managed to snap, you can clearly see a bag of Kaiser buns, a bun toasting machine, containers of lettuce and other essential ingredients such as salsa, ketchup bottle and a mayonnaise gun, and the preparation area. Watching the chicken technician construct a Zinger Tower so closely gives an insight into the step-by-step process which is employed. Interestingly, this particular technician used what I am now calling the Reverse Stack© technique, whereby the burger is constructed from top down: top bun -> mayo -> lettuce -> hash brown -> cheese -> chicken -> salsa - >bottom bun, then flipped. Clearly he had this down to a fine art, as my burger was neatly constructed and well presented.

Overall, I'd recommend the Whitechapel branch for it's speedy service and attention to detail, but get ready for some queueing if you're visiting at peak times and be prepared to take away.

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