The first thing you will notice when you walk into The Dirty Bird Chicken + Waffles restaurant in Kensington Market is its size. It’s small. I mean really small. The restaurant is not catered for long sit down meals, with large groups of people; think fast food style place, with a more cozy ambiance and character. There is one communal table in the center, and some long bench type seating along the side walls, and that’s it. You would be lucky to fit more than 15 people inside the restaurant at one time.
Now, on to the food. You have to order your meal from the front of the restaurant, and what I liked about it is the simplicity of the menu. There are three main options for ordering; option one is variations of chicken and waffles (called Signature), option two is fried chicken pieces in various combinations (called Northern Fried); and option three contains mixed items such as boneless bites, wings, burger, and poutine (called Other Stuff). It must also be mentioned that the sign in the menu states that all the chicken is halal, and there was also verbal assurance from the staff.
I ended up ordering “The Up North Trip” which contained 3-pieces bone-in chicken (two drumsticks, and one thigh piece), served on a waffle, with buttered maple on the side. The entire meal cost $17 (including a drink), something I would consider a bit on the pricey side, but again you are getting a true chicken and waffles experience. The food didn’t take long to be served; the first thing you could tell was the quality of the food. The chicken pieces looked rich in a smooth brown colour, served on a savoury waffle – It was a good sized meal. As I poured the maple syrup on the meal, I was caught by the delicious aroma arising from the chicken. As I cut off a piece of the chicken, I noticed a nice crunch on the break, with the inside being perfectly cooked and moist. As you work the flavours in your mouth, you notice how the combination of the syrup, chicken, and waffle complement each other. I also tried the chicken piece on its own, and it had a nice light, flavourful taste to it, and was not soaked in oil as you would find in many other fried chicken restaurants. In terms of sides, I had one of three choices to choose from: coleslaw, macaroni salad, or potato salad. As neither of these sides had much appeal to me (give me good ol’ fries any day!) I ended up choosing the potato salad by default. It was rich and creamy, and ended up being quite filling considering its small size. Saying all of this, this was my biggest pet peeve of the entire meal. If you order the Signature dishes, you cannot order French fries, only the aforementioned three sides. The French fries can only be added as part of the Northern Fried option, and in my opinion this is a huge miss on their part. If I’m eating fried chicken – even if it is on a waffle, I would like french fries to accompany my protein.
Overall, I found the meal quite satisfying, and was quite full at the end of it. I enjoyed the whole experience and was quite elated to see yet another halal option pop up in Kensington market. The thing though, is that I’m not sure if I would return. For the price, the size of the restaurant, and the commute, I believe there are more worthy competitors that I would prefer to drive to. Saying this, if you haven’t tried The Dirty Bird Chicken + Waffles, I do believe it’s a worthy experience to try at least once.
P.S. While I would love to take credit of the pictures shown here, I have to tell you they are borrowed from some other great photographers. Me, I was way into the food to capture postable pictures. Credit goes to BlogTO.
Blog content provided by Zaki Ameen
For details and halal sourcing information on this restaurant, click on the link below: