The humble chicken burger… Often an afterthought on a burger restaurant menu, the second class citizen to its meaty counterpart, is well and truly brought to the forefront of Brighton’s now well established independent fried-chicken focussed eatery. Having only heard good things, and being a well-documented gourmet burger enthusiast, I was more than excited to be invited to try them out.
In a prime location just off the seafront on Brighton’s bustling East Street, The Bok Shop exudes a relaxed and welcoming vibe. This is a cool, light and airy establishment, decorated minimisticly with black and white brick walls, naked LED bulbs hanging from the ceiling, and littered with picnic benches, as well as some outdoor seating. We chose our spot next to the huge bay windows, perfect for people watching and took in our surroundings. We were salivating over the quite wonderful smells emanating from the kitchen window, while the chef, in full view of the diners, was busily going about his craft. Taking a quick detour downstairs to use the bathroom, I came across the downstairs dining area, which in contrast to the main room had more of a rustic feel. There are bare wood walls and ceiling, decorated with fairy lights and funky artwork, with an impressive, yet slightly out of place library of classic VHS horror films on display. I made a mental note to ask about that, but then forgot!
Upon taking our seat again, Hannah, our incredibly friendly and helpful waitress was more than happy to go through the menu, bringing our attention to the lunchtime deal (£9.50 for any burger, side and soft drink), and offering to answer any questions we may have. The menu is fairly straightforward however it features a selection of classic and bespoke imaginative chicken burgers, which could all be made vegetarian or vegan with spice coated faux chicken. Chicken pieces and wings with various sauces, including vegan nuggets, and a comprehensive list of classic tempting sides and homemade dips all combine to make this one delicious menu.. The comprehensive drinks menu displayed a great selection of craft beers, Bok Shop own red/white/rose wine, fizz, spirits and soft drinks, as well as crooked alcoholic soda.
In the interest of journalism I massively over-ordered so I could sample as much of the menu as possible. I was immediately drawn to “The Bossman” burger, described as a “beast” on the menu, with Bok barbecue sauce, lettuce cucumber, thigh fillet, cheese, hash brown and topped with even more barbeque sauce. I coupled it with some fried pickles, and rounded off my order with six spicy “Bokadoosh Wings.” My wife and dining companion Sally shook her head and sighed at my obvious greed, and prudently ordered two chicken pieces, with homemade mash and chicken gravy.
Despite it being a particularly busy lunchtime, it did not take long for our food to arrive. Assuming the wings were to share, they were placed in the middle of the table. When I explained they were all for me Hannah wished me luck, and then brought out the rest. My burger was simply huge and I was relieved I had not opted to “double up” on the thigh fillet, as I struggled to take the first bite with sauce and bits of hash brown dripping down my chin! I am happy to say the Bossman Burger is as delicious as it is big. The thigh fillet is so juicy, moist and flavoursome, with the twangy homemade barbecue sauce really standing out and the crunchy hash brown and oozing cheese adding an incomparable dose of pure satisfaction in every bite.
The Bokodoosh wings were equally as juicy and coated in a spicy rich crunchy batter which had a lovely kick. They come drizzled in hot Korean Gochujang sauce to give them an extra punch, though by no means overpowering the delicious taste of the chicken.
The fried pickles were some of the best I have had; juicy fat twangy sticks with a signature crispy, buttery batter – perfect for dipping in any one of the Bok Shop homemade dips. I refrained from adding the sauce however, concluding none was needed to enjoy these magnificent creations, though occasionally mopping up some leftover from the wings.
My wife reluctantly allowed me to sample some of her food too! I was straight in there. Tearing off some of her perfectly cooked tender chicken breast and dunking it in the gloriously creamy mash and delightful gravy. Oh wow, this is what fried-chicken dreams are made of. Tasting the Bok Shop batter in all its glory, without the salads buns and sauces was just heavenly and I could not resist going in again to suck the bones dry the moment Sally had finished eating.
As we washed it all down with a couple of crooked alco-sodas I stared at the mound of bones hoping to find one last morsel to enjoy, even though my hunger was more than satisfied. In fact I have to admit I felt ever so slightly uncomfortably full, and loving it! The Bok shop certainly lived up to the hype and I will be dragging my poor wife back soon to witness me massively over-order and devour more delicious succulent chicken very soon.