Street food is perhaps one of the biggest food trends over the past couple of years and this is evident too in Belfast with the likes of Alley Cat, Bubbacue and numerous burrito joints opening recently. Mirroring other major cities the trend here seems to be moving towards fried chicken, for example Wishbone in London reclaiming fried chicken from the greasy sickening fast food we are so used to. Within the past few months there have been two spots opening up both aiming at that market, Yardbird, which focuses on rotisserie as opposed to fried chicken, attached to The Dirty Onion and Le Coop Belfast part of Made in Belfast’s ever growing repertoire of restaurants. After a tough evening of Christmas shopping we decided to try Le Coop Belfast, the choice between fried and rotisserie chicken being the tipping point over Yardbird.
We arrived into a completely empty restaurant, which is usually a good indicator of the food but thankfully this didn’t hold true. The décor is very similar in style to the two Made in Belfast restaurants and the atmosphere is very relaxed, exactly what is needed after spending 3 hours Christmas shopping. With trashy plastic chairs and tables and walls made from chipboard the designers have clearly managed to link the style and menu of the place. I’ve heard a few people complain about the smell of the chicken cooking lingering all around the place but I couldn’t smell anything, perhaps this was because it had been a quiet night or perhaps a few hours of walking about in near zero temperatures had numbed my sense of smell but either way it never bothered either of us. The menu shows a clear French/Creole influence and obviously great attention has been paid to include a variety of different dishes aside from just rotisserie and fried chicken. We were seated and served promptly, ordering a basket of hot wings to share, half a rotisserie chicken for the other half and a basket of Southern fried chicken for myself. By this time a few more people had found their way into Le Coop but the service was still very fast and friendly, the only flaw being a slight bit of confusion regarding the side with my girlfriend’s dish but this was resolved easily.
The wings we had to share were some of the best I’ve ever tried, the sauce they were liberally smeared with was again excellent, spicy but not over-poweringly hot. My wedges that came with the fried chicken were covered in the same sauce and again were great, crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside with a great range of complimentary toppings. The basket of fried chicken itself was ok but not as good as one would expect from a restaurant specialising in this, perhaps a bit better than your standard offering from KFC but not massively so. The same goes for the rotisserie chicken that my other half had, I felt while it was quite flavoursome it was a touch dry and no better than a roast chicken that most could cook at home. While the sides were excellent I feel that Le Coop Belfast has been let down slightly by the chicken that lies at the centre of its menu. Hopefully these were just teething problems but I think next time I have a craving for chicken I’ll be trying Yardbird instead.