In the build-up to Christmas thousands of people from out-of-town flood central London, shed their money in shops they can probably find at home and stare longingly in to those they can't afford to enter. The high streets of Kent and Essex must be deserted, while Oxford Street throngs with ten-thousand gormless bears balancing ten-thousand chipper hares on their heads. Conveniently, at weekends such as these, the underground shuts down for a timely service.
So, four weeks before Christmas seemed a sensible time to book dinner at a Carnaby Street restaurant. Pushing through the endless crowds, with countless morons stopping en route to Instagram giant illuminated robins (I would show you, but it didn't come out very well), we made our way to Kingly Court - a smart courtyard at the southern end of Carnaby Street - and Whyte & Brown within.
Fortunately, Whyte & Brown was quiet. Only a couple of bears balancing a couple of hares. This is a restaurant that proudly specialises in chicken, eggs, and craft beer. Not a posh KFC, you understand, rather they serve other chicken related goods: soups, pies, burgers, that sort of thing. In his review, Jay Rayner questioned the raison d'etre of the place and I'm inclined to agree. I like chicken, I really do, and I liked this chicken, but it is just chicken and it was just dull. Perhaps my choice didn't help: a DIY Sunday dinner of half a roast chicken, served with gravy, and whatever sides you choose. The gravy was good. An intense chickeny flavour, without too much salt.
What is lacking here is an injection of innovation. There were other dishes on the menu that I don't doubt had more flavour. Noodle soups, rabbit ragu, souvlaki. Again, as with Bill's, I imagine this enters the jack of all traders, master of none category. I would take the roast chicken, make that the centre piece, and slap it with a choice of Jamie Oliver style 'big bold flavours'. Tarragon and vermouth, forty cloves of garlic, smoked paprika and lemon, etc. A real DIY roast chicken dinner, where flavour is king. Pukka.
At Whyte & Brown, the status of chicken could be lifted toward that of steak, but unfortunately it's just as bland as it ever was.
I drank a Dinner Ale (3.5%) from Ilkley Brewery.