With a name like Strut & Cluck, one would be forgiven for thinking Shoreditch’s latest establishment is yet another outpost for finger-lickin’ chicken; what with Bird, Chick & Sours; Chicken Shop and a whole host of others rearing their feathered heads in recent years, it seems to be London’s thing. But, how wrong could you be, as Strut & Cluck doesn't serve chicken but instead focuses on the humble turkey. Yes, you heard correctly. A lean, high-protein super-food, turkey is often underrated and cast aside in favour of its chicken cousin.
Founded by husband and wife duo Amir and Limor Chen, Strut & Cluck stems from their love and heritage of classic eastern Mediterranean home cooking, with a menu of healthy, free-range turkey dishes served in new and exciting ways (no Christmas dinners here) alongside delicious sides, salads and sharers.
At Strut & Cluck, the turkeys are reared in East Anglia on a drug-free diet, before being carefully selected for your plate. On arrival at the restaurant it’s marinated for 24 hours in the family herb and spice blend, slow-cooked to ensure the tenderness of the meat, then served in a variety of dishes all inspired by the founders’ Eastern Mediterranean heritage.
In stark contrast to the dark and depressing Mexican that was its predecessor, the Commercial Street space has been lightened and brightened beyond measure by Amir and Limor, with white wooden floors, pale green accents, naked lightbulbs overhead and plenty of greenery. The vibe is cosy, comfy, homely and chilled without being too informal; with lots of natural light, hanging baskets and wooden shutters, it feels like turning up at a mate’s for a casual Friday night supper round the kitchen table.
Allow yourself ample time to peruse the menu, as I guarantee it will be a difficult decision, with so many tasty options on offer. With a host of sharing dishes, smaller starters, hearty salads packed with fresh, jewel-toned ingredients and of course the main event of the big bird, everything looks incredible.
Start with some of the smokey aubergine and tahini dip with warm pitta bread and a portion of the charred cauliflower; served with the most DIVINE lemon zest infused creme fraiche, Nigella seeds and pomegranate. It was insanely moreish. Be warned though - even a quarter of the dish is a decent sized portion.
We accompanied our starter with a crunchy, juicy salad of roasted halloumi, orange and beetroot with lambs lettuce, roasted walnuts and citrus dressing. Perfect summer supper fodder.
Mains come either on the bone (such as the utterly incredible looking sticky wings, smothered with harissa, honey and rosemary and topped with roasted sesame and crispy rosemary) or bone-free, such as the house smoked pastrami and hand-pulled shawarma with dates. I plumped for the charcoal-grilled escalope (an ENORMOUS slab of meat). marinaded with za’atar - a middle eastern spice - and served with skordalia-style mash, a thick puree made with garlic.
Difficult though it was to find room for dessert, the levant milk pudding (like a panda cotta) with raspberries, rosewater treacle and pistachios was delicate and light, while the flourless valrhona chocolate mousse cake, served with candied orange peel and creme fraiche, was the finishing touch that slipped me into a food coma on the journey home. Perfection.
With such a spectacular cocktail menu, it would have been rude not to try a few. My points go to When Basil Met Ginger, a fusion of ginger and lemongrass infused gin with basil leaves and tonic water. An Affair With Sharon (sharon fruit jam and prosecco) and The Strickland Rose - gin, lemon juice, raspberries, egg white, rosewater and creme de framboise - may have somehow also found their way to our table… and to be quite frank, I would order any one of them (multiple times) again and again!
Throughout our meal the staff were knowledgeable, chatty and friendly to us newbies of Middle Eastern cuisine, with Limor even coming out to chat at one point and explain how her giant couscous - chik chak - was inspired by the way her Grandma in Tel Aviv used to make it.
If you’re after a delicious, nutritious, casual, cosy supper, Strut & Cluck needs to be on your radar. With starters and sides from £3-4 and mains from £8, it’s the perfect pit stop on your way home.
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