Tony Naylor, guardian.co.uk, Modified: April 19, 2013 17:12 IST
Fried chicken is the latest fast food to get a fastidious food-nerd makeover. What would you most like to see given similar treatment?
Is it time to retire "fast food" as a pejorative term? Quite possibly. First it was burgers, then hotdogs, now that most reviled and, yet, staggeringly popular of fast foods, fried chicken, is getting its gourmet makeover.
Finger lickin' food trucks Roost, Spit & Roast and imminent Brixton diner Wishbone are all - via the medium of fried chicken - seeking to debunk the myth that there's no such thing as junk food, just good food done badly.
Roost, when it opens at a permanent Soho site later this year, will serve all manifestations of chicken, using all of the bird, in everything from schnitzel to noodle soup, but, at the moment, it is Roost's fried wings and legs - slow-reared British free-range chicken, brined to keep the meat moist, marinated in buttermilk, coated in seasoned flour, deep fried then rested in a hot cupboard for about 10 minutes for maximum crunch (£5.50 a portion) - which are getting observers excited. Says Roost's Cass Titcombe:
"It's everybody's favourite dirty fast food, isn't it? So we thought we'd see if we could make it better. Whatever you call it, 'gourmet fast food', or just redoing these dishes with quality ingredients, without MSG, it's possible and, it seems to me, quite popular. My background's Canteen and we kind of went through the process with pies. You can make a really rubbish pie, so, OK, let's get a pie, do it as best we can and use really good quality ingredients. That seemed to strike a chord with people."That Roost involves one of Canteen's co-founders, while Scott Collins, the business brain behind MeatLiquor and MeatMarket, is one half of Wishbone, tells you all you need to know about the current trajectory of the British "restaurant" scene. Its brightest minds have no interest in ploughing their time and talent into the often thankless task of fine dining. Instead, both culturally and financially, they are excited by crowd-pleasing fast-casual concepts, given a new foodist spin.