Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay my order from Arrosto — the new delivery-only, roast chicken operation from the Quality Chop House team — is that it was one of those dinners with multiple false endings.
“Right,” I announced at the table, having long sailed past the point of fullness that generally precedes a long lie down, “I’m definitely done.” But then, of course, I absolutely wasn’t done. Soon, as the rest of the family drifted off, I found myself wandering back into the kitchen; ostensibly there to “tidy up” yet unable to keep myself from pulling succulent bits of bird off the bone, nibbling crusted patches of melted aubergine parmigiana cheese or sneaking final (final) bites of roast potatoes.
Be warned, then, this Italian-inspired, deceptively simple brainwave from chef Nick Bramham brings cultural specificity and, yes, the sort of addictive deliciousness you may well have to forcibly remove yourself from. The first thing to mention is the smell. Delivered in paper bags (here I must note, for transparency, that my order was specially ferried beyond the 3.5-mile delivery radius of the Fitzrovia base for the purposes of this review), it quickly filled our restive Covid bunker with the thick, enticing scent of garlic, rosemary and sizzled fat.
Arrosto (which means roast in Italian) takes inspiration from southern Italy’s rotisserie-focused rosticcerias but its menu plays with the format a little to make room for a Zuni cafe salad strewn with bread and raisins, plus house-made gelato supplied with sweet brioche buns.
The whole, spit-roasted chicken we got, with its burnished, heat-crinkled skin and accompanying lake of lemony roasting juices, was a worthy centrepiece to our £40 “Full Arrosto” meal deal. But it was the galaxy of accompaniments and add-ons that turned dinner into a frenzy of happy grunts and hungrily grabbed third helpings. Skewers of luscious chicken thigh spiedini had a positively indecent barbecued char, that parmigiana was all infernal blowtorched crust and tangy red sauce, and the roast potatoes (also available as a veggie-friendly version) were somehow simultaneously fine-crisped and plumped with a burst of chicken dripping.
The chicken quickly filled our Covid bunker with the enticing scent of garlic, rosemary and sizzled fat
The only downside I can see (beyond some ‘nduja mayonnaise and salsa verde condimenti that could have probably stood a little more punch) is that — bar an enterprising “exercise cycle” to retrieve an order — it is only available to Londoners in central postcodes. My hope is that, if it proves popular and satellite kitchens can be found, this will change because, honestly, amid the repetitive hopelessness of this third lockdown, it marks an inspired, distinctive bright spot amid the gloom. No doubt about it. These birds have legs.
Meal for two, around £40. Available for delivery or pick-up Thursday to Sunday; arrosto.co.uk