Wednesday, August 27, 2014

CHICK and Victus & Bibo, 21st/22nd August

I am lucky to work in close proximity to Leather Lane, which has dozens of food vendors as well as permanent places lining the street from which to choose a lunch. Some of these are markedly better than others. Daddy Donkeys started off as a van and often had queues snaking down the lane. Now it has its own shop and the queues have not diminished. Tongue and Brisket, a permanent place, does sandwiches of carvery meats and chicken schnitzel. However, if you want that kind of thing, seek out Monty’s Deli or the Beigel shops in Brick Lane rather than here. So it's full of ups and downs. Two places recently caught my attention – Chick and Victus and Bibo.

Chick have done what Pilpel do but instead of only choosing between falafel and falafel, you can have chicken (hence their name) instead. They say it’s schnitzel but really it’s just breaded chicken fillets – of which you get two in a pita – but they're nice so I don’t begrudge them the false description. My first few bites of this were good – warm chicken, crunchy pickles and onions, a layer of hummus underneath it all. A pinch of chilli heat with each bite and the tahini mayo was liberal. I wasn’t too sure about the pita itself, it seemed a little too soft and so it proved. Within a few bites, the wet salad that they put in first had disintegrated the bottom of the pita so that there was a gaping hole. If I hadn’t been holding it in the bag in which it was served, there would have been salad all over my lap. This is such a shame as I was enjoying it until the pita continued to completely deconstruct and the chicken had all been eaten, leaving me with a sorry, claggy mess of bread and wet red cabbage and saurkraut, which is now my lasting memory of it. Next time I fancy similar, I’ll just head to Pilpel again.

And I probably won’t revisit Victus and Bibo either. What I had was actually quite nice for what it was, it just wasn’t my thing. They served ‘diced’ lamb and halloumi wraps and lahmacun. Only they never seem to serve the lahmacun, so finally I decided to just go for a wrap. This place is pretty popular and always has long queues but the service is quick. I discovered 'diced' means 'minced', which isn’t my favourite way of presenting meat and is my sole reason for not going back really. It is grilled in front of you with lots of spices and onions and tomatoes and is then wrapped with salad and fresh tomatoes. I find mince meat to be quite dry and coarse, and this was too, in essence, though what it was cooked with gave it a juiciness and a really nice flavour. The whole thing got better as you worked your way down to the leaves and fresh tomatoes. They sprinkle some chilli flakes on it but these are negligible in taste. So yeah, nice, just not for me - had it been shredded, or, indeed, diced, I'd be back again in a shot.

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