Boy & Bird
It was an evening of hits and misses. The first miss came when we discovered there was no formal system to handle customers waiting for a table, as the chicken (and as we discovered later, the other things as well) proved so popular that every table had been taken. “Come back in 30 minutes, but I can’t guarantee there’ll be a table available.” When I asked whether I could leave my number the waitress apologised that they didn’t have a phone from which to text me; I shot daggers at the landline sitting next to her as I left to pace the Ponsonby strip for half an hour.
I was pleased to find however, that when Boy & Bird makes a gaff, they know how to remedy it. On returning to find our table not quite ready, we were planted at one of the outside tables with the menu and a complimentary bowl of popcorn laced with thyme-rich chicken salt. While we perused the menu outside, a Shortie Street star plodded the pavement behind us while waiting for his order to go. Very popular indeed. The newest venture from ex-Molten owner/chef Van de Elzen and hospo figure Colosimo, the place oozes charm as winsome as its namesake. Exposed brick and polished wooden floors are juxtaposed with striking red and white checkerboard print and cutesy graphics of various foodstuffs.
Although Boy & Bird describes itself as a chicken kitchen, in addition to their citrus-brined and spice-rubbed rotisserie chicken, they offer plenty of other dishes that didn’t once cluck. The menu is varied and interesting, starting with chicken livers or chicken nibbles in various guises. Their specialty, the aforementioned rotisserie chicken, is offered as a whole, half, or quarter, the latter featured in a quarter box alongside potato chunkies and pickled white coleslaw. There is also a number of hot rolls filled with such things as chicken with pickled slaw and smoked chilli dressing, or chickpea cauliflower fritters with Bombay mayo, crunchy sprouts and feta. Under the ‘Don’t Want Chicken’ section, the smoked and braised short rib with soft kumara mash and crispy shallots ($18) caught Mum’s eye and I was left compelled to order the quarter box ($15).
Then came the second miss of the night. Unfortunately it took 40 minutes for the floor to realise they’d lost our order, by which time it was nearly 9pm and I’d started to subject my mum to photos of my trip to Europe. The extremely apologetic waiter however made amends by offering to not charge us for the quarter box without even my suggesting.
Thankfully, when our mains did arrive, they were both standouts (well, almost). The chicken was lovely and moist, with a tasty zing from its spice-rubbed exterior, and the accompanying potato chunkies were nothing short of fabulous. These large nuggets of potato were fluffy on the inside with a ludicrously crispy outer, the kind of roast potatoes you wished accompanied every roast you’ve ever had and ever will have. The pickled white coleslaw was simple with a hint of aniseed, and delivered that tartness needed to balance the richness of a roast, although the intensity of the dress could be turned up a smidge. The only thing that left a bad taste in my mouth was the small jug of gravy that accompanied the chicken; it tasted like peppery, salted play dough. Whilst I was never one to eat play dough at preschool, this gravy tasted exactly like what homemade play dough used to smell like. Just as well the chicken doesn’t need it.
Mum’s braised beef short rib was again a standout dish: the beef was fall apart tender with a rich and tasty sauce warm with spices. They seem to know spuds here, as the accompanying kumara mash was wonderfully creamy and tasty but not in the least cloying. The dish was rounded off well by a hail of crispy shallots and fresh and peppery watercress.
To finish Mum and I shared the most wonderful of chocolate fondants ($12); the chocolate flavours were beautifully complex, its middle molten but delightfully light and spongy on the outside, without a lick of richness. Accompanied by vanilla ice cream and a sprinkling of coconut, this was the way to finish a meal. With so much to choose from on the menu (even vegetarians have the privilege of choice here), I’m soon to be tempted back by the hot bird salad and Dutch apple doughnuts with salted caramel. But next time I’ll book.
Boy & Bird
222 Ponsonby Rd
This review was originally written for Cheap Eats.