By Leslie Williams
Mad Egg, 2 & 3 Charlotte Way, Dublin 2. Tel: 015585211; Instagram: @madeggdublin
There is something primal about fried chicken. I remember my American cousins coming to visit us in the Midlands in the early 1980s and rather blowing my mind with this crunchy delicious wonder that was so far removed from Pat Grace’s Famous Fried chicken — my only experience up to that point.
It is tough to get it right — that perfect contrast between crunch outside and juiciness within and the follow up of the spice kick is harder than it sounds.
Crackbird from Joe Macken would always have been my top choice in Dublin and they recently announced a new menu with a series of special offers including “Broke as a Joke” on Mondays which allows 50% off pre-booked tables, and “Bottomless Wings” on Wednesdays for €15. The new menu has upped the number of small plates and salads and added new dishes so I dropped in to check it out.
The large double wings were as good as ever — six for a tenner with a bright tangy and lightly spiced coating on the ‘Korean Angry Cider’ version. Boneless Juicy Thighs in a semolina crust were also good although perhaps left 20 seconds too long in the fryer — our side dishes of Crispy Cheese Croquettes and Fried Potatoes were excellent but I think they need more crunch and flavour in the ‘Deluxe Crunches’. I’ll report soon on Joe’s new bar called Giuseppe above Jo’Burger on Castlemarket — biodynamic and natural wines and snacks — sounds perfect.
So enough about the old bird, there a new chick on the block in the form of Mad Egg - ‘Next Level Chicken’ they promise. Mad Egg is essentially Bunsen for Chicken (I mean this as a compliment) although strictly speaking I should probably say ‘Block Burger for Chicken’ as one of the owners is behind Block Burger in Clontarf.
Mad Egg has been open since early 2018 with a second branch on Millennium Walk on DNS (de north side). The space is stripped back industrial chic and was jammed with Millennials when we arrived at 3.30pm on a Sunday.
The menu is short in content but long on puns (Love Me Tender, Love Me Sticky, etc) with a choice of four Chicken Tenders and six fried Chicken Burgers and a vegan Cauliflower Sweetcorn Fritter.
Pleasingly the chicken is farmed free-range by John Smith in Navan — one of our longest established free-range producers, ‘Amish buns’ were light and fluffy and sourced from Coghlan’s bakery in Kildare. Chicken is brined in tea for 48 hours and then double dredged in buttermilk and spiced flour.
My ‘Hot Chick’ burger was decently spicy and the soft bun allowed easy access to the crunchy chicken — the fried crust was dense and crispy and the chicken juicy and tender and honestly some of the best fried chicken I’ve tasted. I particularly loved that this was properly spicy — my lips tingled for a full five minutes.
My dining companion opted for the ‘Heartbreaker’ which came with extra cheese and bacon and once again it was excellent. Our shared portion of Sticky Tenders showed off the batter at its best, and while the sauce proved rather messy there was a helpful roll of kitchen paper to hand.
There is one dessert on the menu — DIY Cheesecake (€6.95) with a choice of dressings — we opted for milk chocolate, Oreo crumbs and a Caramel Sauce. The sauce and fixings were excellent but the cheesecake had a rather crumbly flakey texture which jarred. I expressed mild disappointment and was told a new version is being tested and will be out soon.
We drank four bottles of Mad Yoke Pale Ale, the house beer which is brewed by Hope Brewery in Howth — fruity and lightly hopped with good malt flavours and low carbonation that worked particularly well with the spicy chicken. There are a couple of other good beers on the list and a selection of inexpensive wines — Trapiche, Barramundi, Gallo etc. priced at between €21.50 and €22.50 ,with a Prosecco at €28.
So do go, order the spicy versions and stick to the beer, right now this might be the best fried chicken in Dublin.
Two Fried Chicken Burgers and one portion of Chicken Tenders, Fries, extra Slaw, a shared Dessert and four beers cost €62.75
How to: Monday to Wednesday: 12pm- 9.30pm; Thursday and Friday: 12pm-10.30pm; Saturday: 1pm- 10.30pm; Sunday: 1pm-9pm
The verdict: Food: 8/10; Drink: 7.5/10; Service: 9/10; Ambience: 8/10; Value: 9/10
In a sentence: An excellent addition to Dublin’s ever expanding casual dining scene — tasty crunchy fried chicken done right, good beer (less good wine), well worth a visit.