A meal at H.En, Islington
***this restaurant has since closed down***
Since a fairly shocking TV programme by chef and eco warrior Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall a few years ago, we have stopped buying and eating battery chicken and eggs. It is not that easy to eat out and find out where the chicken comes from and if it is effectively free range, unless we are in high end establishments that really care for their products and sourcing.
The opening of H.en in Isligton therefore caught my attention: the London branch of a Brighton ‘chicken shop’, it is fully sustainable and only serves free range, british sourced chickens, as well as of course, free range eggs. The restaurant’s birds come from Caldecott Farm in Worcestershire, a high-welfare, additive free farm.
The London branch is manned by Billy and Jack, MasterChef 2015 finalists, and only opened about two weeks ago. My friend and Instagrammer extraordinaire Felicity invited me to join her in trying out the joint and I was of course very glad to so.
The venue is on a corner just around the Almeida Theatre and is nicely laid out, with bright full size windows and a really cute wall decoration on one side. The kitchen and bar are at the back. The staff are very friendly and enthusiastic and the service is fast and efficient. The menu is not massive, is basically chicken in various forms (grilled, fried, pulled) and there are a couple of valid vegetarian options.
I chose a pulled chicken burger with fries, while Felicity opted for the quinoa salad. We shared corn on the cob and a bowl of slaw. Food arrived quickly and looked very pretty. Portions are abundant.
My pulled chicken was very good, the bun was a brioche bun so slightly sweet, the chips well seasoned with a herby coating. Would be great if sweet potato fries were on the menu, they are online, but not on the paper menus we had. The slaw was very light and mayonnaise free and the corn well roasted, although maybe not as plump as it could have been. I washed my food down with a pink and lovely home made lemonade. Neither of us could try the crispy chicken feet that are among the snacks, ah there is a limit !
We had to try dessert too; there are only three on offer, an apple pie, a cheesecake and a sticky toffee. Felicity went for the latter, while I had the cheesecake which was more like a mousse, very creamy but not quite a cheesecake consistency.
Jack and Billy were there on the night, although I didnt get to chat to them; the place was full and buzzing and by the time we left, around 10.30pm, there were still people eating. They do brunch at weekends, and they are dog friendly which is great as I can see myself coming back with husband and dog in tow soon.
Overall is a great concept; it’s easy, flavoursome rustic food with a bit of Americana inspiration and fairly priced. I just hope they consider opening in South London next.
I dined as a guest of H.en and was not required to write this post; opinions are my own.