“MAD EGG IS CASUAL IN THE WAY THAT THERESA MAY IS UPTIGHT, IN THE WAY THAT CONOR MCGREGOR
SUGGESTS AN EXCESS OF TESTOSTERONE.”
AND I LIKED IT.
2-3 Charlotte Way
The Irish Daily Mail
29 September 2018
I mentioned recently that I rarely order chicken when I’m eating out. The reason is simple: it’s almost always intensively reared, flavourless stuff, and I have described such meat as the animal equivalent of tofu. It’s just a texture and a form of protein that soaks up flavours, having none of its own.
Now, anyone who has eaten properly free-range chicken, organically fed and slowly grown will know what chicken is meant to be like, but it’s expensive. It has to be, because it takes time and lots of feed. It’s like a different creature, a different species.
Your average free-range chicken isn’t in this league but it’s better than the bog standard sort. It’s not much more expensive, it doesn’t taste of much more but it salves our consciences. Why it doesn’t appear on more menus, I have no idea. Penny-pinching, I suspect.
So, it’s good to see Mad Egg specifying free range meat for their fried chicken establishment, and it seems to be indicative of a level of care and attention to detail that’s pretty rare in such a casual restaurant.
Mad Egg is casual in the way that Theresa May is uptight, in the way that Conor McGregor suggests an excess of testosterone. I mention this because I know that some of my readers expect tablecloths or, at the very least, a table to themselves. They would faint here.
Mad Egg is noisy (with chatter, clatter and music), busy (don’t imagine you’re going to get a table straight off at peak times, and the fried chicken is consumed at communal tables. It’s not for those who want a quiet, reflective meal, a confidential tête-á-tête or clean hands after the meal.
So, as you can imagine, it needs to be darn good to overcome these handicaps (although, to many, they would be attractions). And it is good. Darn good.
The chicken is tea-brined, something that’s common in the southern states of the USA; the combination of tea, salt and sugar means that the meat retains moisture when fully cooked and, of course, its flavour is enhanced. I’m guessing that Mad Egg uses somewhat more salt than sugar in their tea brine as the result is more obviously savoury than what I’ve had on the other side of the Atlantic.
Allow me to be distracted for a moment. I’m a major fan of Sriracha, the red, chilli-ish, sour sauce from Thailand. Actually, I whisk it into soft butter to make a dip for chicken wings. It was most reassuring to see bottles of the stuff throughout Mad Egg.
So, what did we have? Well we all had the same fried chicken in the same soft Amish rolls (in essence, airy light buns) and both were excellent: the chicken moist within its crisp coating, the bun, in effect, just a wrapper to contain the meat and its accompaniments.
There was The OG, fairly conventionally served with a zesty lemon and herb mayonnaise, the Hot Chick with a chilli sauce and spicy chipotle slaw, and the Wild Thing with buffalo and ranch sauce which combined to produce lots of tang, salt and spice. Pickles were compulsory, as I believe they should be. If you don’t like them, pick them out.
This is simple food but it’s so hard to get it right. It could have been utter rubbish but this is where the care and the attention to detail comes in. You can sense it, and taste it.
Our chicken did exactly what you want fried chicken to do – without drying out. The accompaniments, especially with the Hot Chick and the Wild Thing, were massively assertive but they worked. This menu has been thought about for a long time.
Two slices of self-assembly cheesecake were tooth-achingly sweet (but that was partly to do with the elements chosen, such as honeycomb, crushed Maltesers… well you, get the picture).
Two grown-ups and a 13-year old had a great time, and between us imbibed four glasses of wine, sparkling water and a Fanta in the course of the meal. The youngest thought the slogan “Get Laid. Get Fed” was hilarious. The bill came to €77.65.