Is the chicken burger the most mis-begotten mistake in the culinary arts?
The standard chicken burger tends to be a dish where the chicken got away, scot-free. You get crispy, you get deep-fried, you get crunch. But what you don’t ever get, of course, is chicken.
As such, the CB is just the sort of dish you can imagine Dublin’s Big Grill maestro Andy Noonan getting his teeth into, metaphorically speaking. Mr Noonan likes to take apart of the elements of live fire cooking, tinker with them, improve them, then get them onto the flame. He does this with the classics of the live fire vocabulary in Fowl Play, his grill-within-a-pub in The Square Ball, just around the corner from Holles Street Hospital. The cherry-wood smoked chicken wings; the rotisserie chicken cooked over charcoal; the turkey dog; the smoked duck; the grilled halloumi.
All of these are more than fine, but the Fowl Play chicken burger is nothing other than a masterpiece. It’s made with boned chicken thighs, which are anointed with house rub, then grilled over charcoal and served with their trademark Alabama white sauce, frisée and a cracking toasted brioche bun.
When it arrives at the table, skewered top-to-bottom and oozing white sauce, with a side of their coleslaw, it looks straightforward enough: a big, generous burger. But the first bite shows Mr Noonan’s skill, as you are hit with sweet, earthy, smoky, deep chicken flavours. The best way we can describe the flavour is to say that it has that close-to-the-bone resonance: it’s the chicken you tear from the carcass with your fingers after everyone else has left the table. The Alabama sauce gives a cider vinegar sourness which is balanced by a mayo-sweetness, the frisée does its bit, and the brioche holds everything together until the last bite.
The whole unlikely operation - live fire in a pub brought back to life, is worth travelling any distance for. Drink one of the Bodytonic-White Hag Brewery collaborations with it – the staff here recommend the In Cahoots elderflower kettle sour – and it’s as noble as simple eating and drinking gets.
45 Hogan Place, Grand Canal Dock, D2 Tel: (01) 662 4473