Sidechick emerged as an off-shoot of the wildly popular citywide burger chain founded by Joe Grossman in 2012 — piloted through restaurant delivery juggernaut Deliveroo last June, iterating on an even more wildly successful brand than their own: Nando’s. Sidechick offers butterflied, marinated chicken with piri piri alongside butterflied, marinated chicken seasoned with butter, herb, and lemon. Where Nando’s grills, it roasts.
The restaurant, split over two floors with an open kitchen and outdoor terrace comprising 70 covers all-in, is expected this summer, once restaurants are permitted to reopen after restrictions are lifted in mid-May. Grossman said the site, which sits next door to the original Patty and Bun restaurant on James Street in Marylebone was “absolutely perfect” for Sidechick’s debut.
“The overwhelmingly positive response to our delivery-only service during the spring-summer 2020 lockdown encouraged us to source a permanent location,” Grossman said. “Hospitality faces an uncertain future, so we are doing all we can to create jobs and bring diners new concepts to look forward to in the coming weeks, months, and years.”
Chicken has emerged as one of the most successful lockdown (delivery) dishes: Familiar, comforting, comparatively cheap, the ability to embellish what is in essence a blank protein canvas has seen many restaurants default to lowest common denominator food economics in the past 12 months. Creating something with mass appeal that is likely to sell took on a new kind of importance with restaurants in survival mode as of last spring.
Chicken dishes have spanned the restaurant spectrum since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis: Chef Jackson Boxer included roast chicken in Orasay’s opening delivery menu last April; Michelin-starred Shoreditch restaurant Leroy created a new rotisserie chicken-only restaurant brand in May; NYC chef Daniel Humm included a souped-up fried chicken effort in Davies and Brook’s delivery menu last autumn; Snackbar’s Freddie Janssen has been riffing on fast food creations like Doritos fried chicken sandwiches; while the poultry crown has probably landed on the head of Quality Wines’ Nick Bramham, who launched Arrosto in January this year.
The confirmation that an established London brand has acquired a central London site is also another indication of the work being done behind the scenes in advance of reopening next month. Following news that Harts Group would open a branch of its Mexican-inspired El Pastor on a premium Soho site this summer, as well as JKS’s restaurants’ acquisition of Andina in Shoreditch for Bao, the Taiwanese restaurant group it part-owns, it is worth monitoring to what extent the city’s property market is going to change in the wake of this crisis, or whether London will simply carry on rewarding and promoting that with which it is most familiar. A hypey burger brand putting some Nando’s-adjacent chicken right next to its most central restaurant looks like another win for the latter.