As everyone in British society well knows, Wednesday is Chicken Club in your local J.D. Wetherspoon establishment. It neither has the easy camaraderie of a social club or the unhinged hedonism of a nightclub, but it does have chicken – in five different forms.
Being the uncompromising type, I opted for the Peri-peri roast half chicken with coleslaw and rice. It was definitely better than I imagined it was going to be, although admittedly this does not necessarily suggest heady heights were reached.
And they weren’t. But it was fine; decent quantities of meat overcooked to the point of having the texture of the now-notorious ‘pulled’ brand of flesh, a reasonable quantity of moderately-flavoured rice and adequate if somewhat bland coleslaw. It filled a hole, without building a monument on top.
Despite Chicken Club seemingly being a parody of what is available in your local Nando’s any day of the week, the whole experience really gave you the impression that no J.D. Wetherspoon taster has ever set foot in a Nando’s.
Texture, flavour and ambience seem to acknowledge the Portuguese-South African cultural roots of this poultry project, while at the same time wilfully rejecting it in favour of something that feels much more like a Sunday Roast with a bit of spice banged in.
In short, it’s reassuring. Sort-of succeeding without ever really trying too hard is the base business mantra of the J.D. Wetherspoon empire; as is acknowledging cultural trends without ever abandoning the psychology of the thick-skulled British bulldog. Ultimately, you get what you get and you don’t mind it all that much.