One moment you’re chilling in the playground with your imaginary pet dragon and the next you’re trying not to cry into your flat white because you forgot the name of the home secretary in front of your boss. Us humans refer to this magical process as ‘growing up’. We prefer to think of it as being dragged, kicking and screaming, away from the sweet age of Dairylea Lunchables innocence and into permanent caffeine addiction. But there are some undeniable perks of adulthood - unlimited self-imposed sugar, double beds, significantly less bed wetting - and no one understands this more than Sidechick, a restaurant that is making the comfort chicken of your childhood but for certified grown-ups.
A dark green-fronted Marylebone spot with plenty of natural wines and leather banquette seating, Sidechick started life during one of the many - 2020 trigger warning - London lockdowns. Casual burger pros, Patty and Bun, traded beef for the honourable mission of delivering roast chicken to sad Londoners who had taken to referring to their 2-inch windowsill as The Terrazza. We got involved, and alongside forming emotional attachments to animals up for adoption on the RSPCA website, it was the best thing we did during lockdown. And oh, that chicken. Two-syllables. Seven letters. An oil-dripping, juicy marinated meat hug with a gloriously herby charred skin that we picked at like the soulless trackie-clad hyenas quarantine had turned us into. And the good news is, their IRL venture is packing that same corn-fed chicken cosiness with the added bonus of Campari cocktails, date-ready two-person booths, and importantly, candlelight.
Now whilst you might be thinking ‘okay, so it’s a Nando’s knock-off with slightly better lighting’, please know that despite having piri piri and £2.50 dips on its menu, Sidechick is not somewhere you scurry to on a hangover hoping no one will judge you for ordering a sixth Pepsi Max. No, if Nando’s is your insecure ‘ketchup please’ 20s, Sidechick is your confident salsa rossa 30s. You know, that lovely phase of adulthood where you get your kicks from nice wooden panelling, tasteful music, bottles of biodynamic Vermentino, and finally realise that it’s actually quite nice to eat your five-a-day. On that subject, Sidechick is lowkey serving some of the best vegetable side dishes in London. We’re talking perfectly ripe tomatoes loaded onto crunchy little flatbreads, white beans kicking back on a pile of crispy chicken skins, and a labneh-meets-aubergine situation that is basically a one-dish dissertation entitled Why All Vegetables Should Come Served With Breadcrumbs And Pecorino. Nando’s? Are you joking? Nando’s could never.
Of course, given its propensity for basement corduroy booths, soft moody lighting, and polite little almond tarts served with creme fraiche, Sidechick is a no-brainer for your next date night in central. Yes, we know the name is a little Ashley Madison but that can easily be forgiven in the face of a £4.50 flatbread loaded with anchovies, marjoram, and presumably, actual edible sunshine. That being said, Sidechick isn’t so heavy on the romance that it won’t also work for an affordable catch-up that centres around sharing your aioli and recent gossip. Or for that casual-ish £12 set menu business lunch you keep putting off. Or even for a weeknight solo dinner of crispy potatoes, za’atar chicken, and a cheeky glass of something organic when you just need a reminder that being a grown-up can be kind of great after all.
Sidechick is a seasonal restaurant so parts of the menu change regularly, but here’s an idea of the dishes you can expect.
Public transport or cab? One pint or three? Seven hours sleep or more Netflix? Yes, as our parents always warned us, adulthood is full of big decisions. And the biggest decision you’ll need to make at Sidechick is how you want your excellent, juicy chicken served. You can opt for a half or a whole chicken, but we’d suggest always doing the latter because we have done our civic next-day chicken duty, and can confirm that any leftovers will still taste great for tomorrow’s lunch. If you’re a spice fan, you can’t go wrong with the piri piri or chimichurri marinades, but we’ve got a real soft spot for the sesame and sumac Za’atar rub.
Each of the highly-dippable sauces at Sidechick is £2.50. Even with our limited maths skills, we can tell you that it’ll set you back a tenner if you order the aioli, salsa rossa, herb yoghurt, and salsa verde all in one sitting. And we encourage this behaviour. But if you’re someone who has that whole ‘self-control’ thing going on, then our official ranking of the dips is as follows: the essential garlic-smack aioli, the rich salsa rossa, the herb yoghurt, then then we can take or leave the salsa verde.
Frankly, Sidechick’s flatbreads are all the evidence we need that 99% of adulthood joy comes down to nice olive oil. At under a fiver, you should always make room for one no matter whether it’s loaded with ricotta and mushrooms or roast tomatoes and goat’s curd.
Please rest assured that we will not be reaching out to the Advertising Standards Authority to dispute the use of ‘crispy’ in Sidechick’s menu. You know what, put it in all caps lads because these little roasties are CRISPY in the kind of way where you’ll end up having a deeply scientific conversation about cooking potatoes with your dinner partner. Also, importantly, they’re seasoned to perfection.
It reads like an Ocado order and is just as satisfying as being organised enough to actually get an Ocado delivery slot. We imagine. Anyway, this is a medley of delicious things that translates into a fantastic mouthful of food. An aubergine swan song, we beg of you Sidechick, please don’t take this off the menu.