Maybe it’s the St Mary Street location, but the Eat The Bird menu reads like it’s pitched squarely at the 10-pints-in-Walkabout-followed-by-a-stumble-up-the-stairs-to-Fantasy-Lounge #ladsladslads crowd. Naked Bird? Excuse me while I stifle a schoolboy snigger. Dirty Ol’ Bird? Oo-er missus. Cluck Me Sideways? Top bantz. But don’t let the puerile humour put you off – the truth is it does Cardiff’s Eat The Bird a serious disservice.
Cardiff is already well served for beefburger joints, with Ansh the overlords and the recently arrived Fat Hippo and Hench (the latter taking up residency in the Royal Oak on Broadway) among the many pretenders to the throne. Indeed, there are three beef options available at Eat The Bird, should you so desire. But decent chicken burgers are harder to find round these parts – which is why this fledgling chain’s expansion into Wales is so welcome.
This being a hip-branded burger restaurant, the adjectives “dirty” and “filthy” are liberally sprayed around, worn by the various menu items as a badge of honour and marker of quality, rather than (as in days of yore) words jotted down on a clipboard in disgust by a tutting food hygiene inspector. One of our party plumps for a Proper Filthy, which dutifully lives up to its moniker.
Two of us choose a Furlough instead, the principal difference being that the latter has burger relish rather than BBQ sauce. Our server somewhat sheepishly admits in hushed tones that the relish is Eat The Bird’s take on the McDonald’s staple – but it’s reassuringly superior, and any misgivings about selecting the chicken/relish combination are soon dispelled. Is it going too far to call the Furlough fusion food?
For those who fancy a classier combo, the Holy Cluck – with brie rather than American or Swiss cheese – comes highly recommended, not least because of the accompanying garlic mayo’s hefty twang. The chicken burgers themselves are uniformly excellent (crunchy on the outside, tender within), the skin-on fries sound, and the service attentive rather than obtrusive, with additional (and much-needed) napkins delivered without request at precisely the right moment.
The menu is perhaps slightly samey, with little to choose between the different options, and – aside from the Chicktator (a Korean-inspired chicken burger complete with kimchi) and a novel twist on mac‘n’cheese (there’s a reason why no one else has thought about garnishing theirs with broken bits of Mini Cheddars) – arguably somewhat conservative. It would be fascinating to see what they might do with Tukka Tuk’s signature Keralan fried chicken. Bring on a collaboration.
Eat The Bird, St Mary Street, Cardiff.
words and photos BEN WOOLHEAD
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