As an American, there are quite a few things that I’ve been searching for since moving to the UK: The perfect burger (thanks Bleecker Street for that!), amazing Mexican food (and the search continues, any ideas about that readers?) and really delicious fried chicken (and possibly an amazing buffalo sauce to go with it). It’s been over five years now, and while the burger scene in London has really exploded and made some amazing burgers, the similar explosion in chicken has been lackluster, leaving me feeling forlorn.
So for five years my search for great fried chicken and buffalo sauce has felt like it may end the way it started: disappointingly. I recently had to attend a work event in Manchester, and some lovely people up there offered to show me around for the night. (I admit, I skipped out on the work dinner. There’s only so much one can talk about health data.) They brought me to Yard & Coop, and even though they told me that the owner was somehow affiliated with the deep South in the good ol’ US of A, I was really doubtful about things going into it. I guess I’ve just been promised too many things about American food in the UK to believe it anymore.
Yard & Coop definitely has that hipster vibe going for it when you walk in. The music selection was crazy, and it turns out they had the ‘#coopbox’ on that night where you could tweet to them your song and the hashtag, and they would play it. (Except apparently they responded that my request for “The Greatest Love of All” was too slow, so they played “Your Love is My Love” instead.) They even sat the five of us under a bit of chicken wire like we were somehow dining in our own chicken coop. Nice.
I decided to get one of the cocktails. With ice cream. But I promise you I totally counteracted that by getting the healthy side of salad instead of chips. It balances out, right? I had the Proper Buzzin’ made up of bourbon, tequila, apple juice, ginger beer and ice cream on top. And it was delicious. I’m not usually a fan of sweet cocktails as I feel like I’m drinking dessert, but with ice cream, it’s like I’m actually having dessert with booze, so that’s okay. (I realize my logic borders on insane troll logic.) I also ordered the Too Many Bloody Options a bit later, as it’s basically a Bloody Mary (and I’m a fan), with either gin or vodka and either tomato juice or beetroot juice. I really wanted the beetroot juice, but they were out, so I had tomato instead. It was nice, but I prefer mine to be quite a bit spicier, so I think I’ll just stick to the ice cream drinks next time around.
Now Yard & Coop has a plethora of selections for you to choose from. Tons of sides, the fried chicken, plus sandwiches, wraps and salads. So many choices. I decided I wanted to get the boneless thighs (because thighs taste better). They also have quite a few sauces to choose from. I was dead-set on the buffalo sauce. I was told by one of my dining companions that the buffalo sauce is hot. Please. I’m from the land of hot buffalo sauce, and I knew there was no way that this sauce was going to be that hot. I’ve yet to find a buffalo sauce in the UK to best me. So I got the buffalo sauce. And a salad. You know, to be healthy. I also had to try the deep fried salted jalapenos.
I do need to tell you that things at Yard & Coop are a bit slow. Don’t go expecting a quick in-and-out experience. The drinks take awhile; the food takes awhile. But if you go with good friends, it won’t really matter that much. When our food finally arrived, the paltry tub of buffalo sauce seemed like it would barely cover my chicken, so I made sure to ask for another tub. I basically dumped that stuff all over my chicken. And guess what? It was actually very hot. My mouth was pleasantly on fire for my entire meal. My friends were actually kind of laughing at me, but I don’t regret it; no regrets here. It blew Nando’s extra-extra hot sauce out of the water. And I loved every minute of it. I did try the chicken before dumping the sauce on so I could get an idea of what it tasted like on its own. It was moist, so that’s always a plus. The breading was nice and crispy and tasted heavenly. There were bits of herb flavors that kept popping into my mouth at different times that really elevated the chicken. I have to say, it’s probably the best fried chicken I’ve had in the UK. It really was that good. I’m actually salivating in my seat right now thinking about it. The jalapenos were pretty good as well (although they were probably not real jalapenos, as they were quite mild and didn’t have that jalapeno taste). I also got to try some of the halloumi bites. They blew any popcorn chicken I’ve had out of the water. So good. I’d probably want those next time instead of the jalapenos.
The amazingness of Yard & Coop’s chicken makes me kind of annoyed I live in London. Because it’s not going to be easy to go back. (I really just want some more right now.) But if you are lucky enough to live in the Manchester area, or plan on visiting, I would highly recommend having a meal there, because the food is pretty spot on. I’m just trying to envision a way to need to be up there more often, but alas, I don’t think there will be too many more trips up there for me. At least for work. Maybe I’ll need to convince my husband to take a weekend trip up there. It would probably be wrong for me to convince him to go up to Manchester just so I can have more chicken, right?
Yard & Coop
23-37 Edge Street
Manchester, M4 1HW