"Chicken and chips? You must be kidding me!" The guy muttered under his breath as he walked away with his companion. That was effectively half of the menu at Tramshed, the latest addition to Mark Hix's empire. The other half was sirloin steaks.
If you ever forget that, there's always the Damien Hirst's formaldehyde pumped rooster standing on top of a cow hung above the main dining area. The morbidity of having a preserved chicken and bovine staring at you while you feast on their kind ranks right up there with those Chinese restaurants that have fish tanks sitting right next to the dining tables.
Sitting just a few paces from Rivington Grill along, well, Rivington Street, Tramshed lies almost hidden to passerbys. There was no mention of Tramshed on the two signboards propped up near its set back facade declaring that it does takeaways. Just the trademark sign of rooster and cow.
Having heard good things about Tramshed's chicken takeaway, the Swainson House farm barn-reared chicken and chips sounded like a good idea. At £25 a pop, it sounded excessive but as it was "for two-three to share", I guess that was justified.
What came out of the kitchen could very well have come out from a scene in Chicken Run. The headless chicken was impaled with its stringy legs pointing to the ceiling, much like a dive bombing mission into a pile of chips gone wrong.
It's one of those dishes that you aren't quite certain where to sink the knife into. Fortunately, the staff spared us the agony and proceeded to separate the poor chicken's legs from its torso and placed them on our plates unceremoniously. With that done, the rest was simple. "You can just help yourselves," our waitress chirped.
That said, Tramshed's chicken was wonderfully marinated. Even after going through its skin, the flesh didn't feel too dry. But what made the difference was its sauce. I just couldn't get enough the bread sauce blended with garlic and parsley bits. The platter of chip was seasoned with what tasted like chicken stock. Again, we cleaned that all cleaned up.
We got some other nibbles on the side too. An oversized Yorkshire pudding with a price to match. At a whopping £4 each, it came with a whipped cauliflower dip. It was a struggle to finish that monster after the chips. Yet, Wife couldn't resist a neat little apple & damson pie (50p), which was strangely addictive.
With its high ceiling and natural light flooding in during lunch, Tramshed reminds me of Gavin la Chapelle, only more casual and fun; serving chicken and chips only accentuates that. If you are a small group looking for somewhere quaint, look no further. For quiet conversations, go elsewhere.
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Neige d’Ete – Feb 2017
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