Having only tasted fried chicken within a ‘KFC’ context, my expectations for Coop Chicken House were very much in line with that traditional, greasy type of cuisine. So, when I stepped into the restaurant out of the blistering cold and was greeted by a friendly group of staff (very different to the silent, motionless clones behind KFC counters) I was pleasantly surprised, not only by that but also by the cool, farmhouse-minimalist décor and impressive array of beers and sauces displayed around the room.
I was there to test out their Sunday deal- all the wings you can eat, for £10 per person- and so I took along a friend of mine who happens to be an expert in all that is fried. We were seated immediately and shown the huge variety on offer- I was amazed by the extensive list of sauces, served in shot glasses, which ranged from mild sauces like a honey-mustard to super-spicy concoctions, all helpfully rated from ‘no heat’ to ‘nuclear’. I, an orderer of korma and lover of mayonnaise to cool food down, ordered a mild sauce and, to be adventurous, a slightly spicier ‘African BBQ’. I would really recommend this one, actually, to anyone who loves flavour but nothing too spicy. I really liked how all the sauces were from interesting, often local, businesses, and that they were available to buy by the bottle if it took your fancy.
When it came to the wings, I was instructed by my companion that ‘the crispier, the better’. We ordered two sets of all-you-can-eat house wings (the milder of the two options with lemon, salt, and pepper rather than spice) with both regular fries and sweet potato fries (because why not) and three different sauces. We were reliably informed that the record for most wings eaten is 60, and optimistically my friend decided to give the champion a run for his money. The winner gets their picture taken with one of the many chicken ornaments around the restaurant, which is then posted to the business’s Instagram page.
The wings come out in plates of ten, and each time you finish a plate another is offered to you. I managed a healthy 13 wings- they were really good sizes and very well cooked, but I was defeated by their sheer size. Perhaps two sets of fries was a bad idea, after all. My friend, however, powered through four full plated of wings, as well as fries, and made it to 42. He tried both house and spicy, saying that the level of spice was easily manageable (what a show off). The staff were really helpful and knowledgeable about everything on offer, which was great given that this isn’t a type of cuisine I’d usually frequent.
As it turned out, my lack of ambition with the wings came in handy later in the meal, when I felt I had just enough room for a portion of cookie dough pie (which was among an array of very decadent sounding desserts). It was a real slab: a combination of warm cookie dough and soft pastry, with a generous helping of ice cream and chocolate sauce, and it went down surprisingly easily given that for the last 15 minutes I had been complaining about my full, aching stomach.
All in all, my experience at Coop Chicken House was great. The music was fun (plenty of bangers) and the unique way of doing things there was really refreshing. Add that to the great food, interesting sauces and helpful staff (who even boxed up my leftover wings for me- they taste just as good at midnight at home) and I’d give them five stars. I am, however, still full, days later- is that a good thing?