Absurd Bird - Bath Food Review
Posted on: 2017-01-17
Absurd Bird might be the new kid on the Bath block but the food is utterly, unequivocally astonishing.
It might have only been open for a month, but Absurd Bird - the latest restaurant addition to the newly revamped SouthGate in Bath - is already pulling in the hungry punters with a range of food that is so delicious you'd be simply absolutely clucking mad to miss it.
Taking its inspiration from the chicken soul food of the American Deep South, it's deceptively small-looking from the outside but opens up into a vast eating and drinking emporium. An imposing space spread out across two floors, there is a cocktail bar which takes centre stage with the circumference made up of cosy booths adorned with quirky pictures and flickering candles (upstairs is laid out with standard tables and chairs), while the spirit of its culinary provenance is echoed through occasional splashes of red and green.
Bath is the third location in the rapidly expanding Absurd Bird empire, with other restaurants based in London and Exeter and the enthusiasm for and success of those branches generating talk of a possible fourth restaurant in Bristol at some point in the not-too-distant future.
The menu is set out on one page and offers, quite literally, plenty of food for thought to ruminate and cogitate over. There's 'Sharing Stuff' such as fried pickles or spinach and artichoke dip, and slightly healthier 'Greenish Plates' including southern smoked Caesar salad or watermelon and feta salad.
All of this, however, is just a wanton tease and alluring preamble to the proper chicken-based mains - all listed under the pithy but entirely apposite heading 'The Bird' - and which assaults the synapses with quarter, half or whole chicken options plus a slew of other dishes for your serious consideration, such as fried chicken sliders, smoked chicken burger, and Absurd's Nashville hot sandwich.
Embracing its Deep South origins and predilection for all things hot and spicy, many of the dishes include a judicious - sometimes head-blowingly excessive (depending on how well your tongue and constitution can handle it) - sprinkling of spicy mayos and hot Harissa dips.
The quality of the chicken here really does come into its own, having been sourced locally from Creedy Carver Farm using free range farming techniques and brined for 12 hours. And it shows. Or, more appropriate, it tastes - because this is incredible, supreme quality chicken like you've never chomped down on before.
My crispy fried chicken burger with BBQ sauce and coleslaw (£9.80) arrived like some obscene culinary colossus, a mountain of deliriously moist, tender, succulent, crispy batter-encased chicken and loaded with a generous portion of crunchy, creamy, slightly fiery, zingy coleslaw, all sandwiched between exquisitely soft, fresh buns.
An accompanying small bucket of spicy sweet potato fries (£3.95) - from the 'Slightly on the Side' section which you order separately as an add-on as you also do with, for example, corn on the cob and Jalapeno mac and cheese - were the best of their kind I'd ever tasted; faultlessly crispy on the outside, moreishly soft and sweet on the inside, imbued throughout with a heady but not overpowering piquancy and heat.
My brother - on ebullient recommendation from one of the attentive, affable waitresses - went for the initially odd-sounding but what turned out to be thoroughly awesome combo of chicken and waffles with smoked, sweet gravy and maple syrup (£11). The fusion of top-quality waffles with exemplary chicken might be one of those dishes where your head initially, vociferously screams 'no', but your taste-buds inevitably capitulate with an unremittingly euphoric 'yes'. In short, it's weird but it works.
He similarly opted for a portion of magnificent spicy sweet potato fries and a small pot of Harissa hot dip (£1), which he described as one of the most delicious, aromatic things he'd ever tried and which, despite 'like eating lava', he kept enthusiastically returning to dip his fries in and put even his Teflon-coated mouth to the ultimate test.
After a much-needed 20 minute break during which my brother and I washed the elephantine portions of our mains down with a bottle of New York-brewed IPA-style Brooklyn Lager and glass of Cola respectively (I'd had a heavy weekend), we thought about desserts - and conclusively thought it would be a very good idea.
The 'Sweet Somethings' pudding menu includes homemade chocolate cookies and a glass of ice-cold milk or carrot cake sandwich, but we decided to go for broke and really put our stomach linings to the test with The Dipsy (£8), a massive tear-and-share warm brioche brute of a finale served with a pot each of luxuriant vanilla-infused creme anglaise; a salted, dark and decadent caramel; and a divinely rich, silky-smooth chocolate sauce.
Absurd Bird might be the new kid on the Bath/SouthGate block but there's clearly a buzz about this place as it was doing an impressive trade for a Tuesday evening, while the service was remarkably polished and slick for a nascent operation. The food - if you hadn't already guessed - was utterly, unequivocally astonishing in terms of its epic portion sizes and stunning quality ingredients.
Stomachs bloated, girdles loosened, and waddling out into the fresh air like two over-fed penguins into the dark and chilly night, the only point of discussion on our way home was when we'd be going back. Hopefully, it'll be pretty darned soon.
Additional words and photos by Andrew Caddick
Jamie is a writer, blogger, journalist, critic, film fan, soundtrack nerd and all-round Bristolian good egg. He loves the music of Philip Glass, the art of Salvador Dali, the writings of Charles Bukowksi and Hunter S Thompson, the irreverence of Harry Hill, and the timeless, straw-chomping exuberance of The Wurzels. You can sometimes find him railing against a surging tide of passing cyclists, or gorging himself senseless on the Oriental delights of a Cosmos all-you-can-eat buffet.