Franzos – 318 Ilford Lane, Ilford, London IG1 2LT, 020 8553565
Piri Piri Chicken… what does it really mean to you? Roosters? Pandas or possibly Nandos?
It’s a difficult one, what is meant to taste like? Some places are a little hit and miss, some places take pride in their secret recipe. Let me tell you about a place not too far from home. A place that seems to get it spot on. How do I know? well, on my 5th visit in a month or so, I thought it was about time the story was told.
Piri piri sauce (used as a seasoning or marinade) is Portuguese in origin and “especially prevalent in Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa”. It is made from crushed chillies, citrus peel, onion, pepper, salt, lemon juice, bay leaves, paprika, pimiento, basil, oregano, and tarragon. Wiki link
Nandos for those who are not familiar, were probably one of the first in the UK to bring such South African Portuguese flavours to our streets. Many of you may have your favourites, medium chicken leg with side of chips and corn, some wings on the side and stamp on your loyalty card. It’s all great, but you soon realise that a meal for two quickly becomes 25 quid with drinks. This can become a problem for those addicted to the chicken like me and many I know.
So, the answer is to find a substitute at a reasonable price that can match or if not beat your usual Piri Piri fix. Here’s where Franzos comes in, a halal establishment with two branches, one in Ilford another in Wood Green. A place that could easily be over looked for another grilled chicken or gourmet burger shop. One thing to note on your visit is they only take cash, which can be a problem and probably needs to be fixed otherwise you need to walk down the high street to find cash machine, which I found out. The is place clean, new with a rustic vibe. Not fully an imitation of other trendy chicken grills but just the right amount to keep it looking fresh.
The menu like others had the usual, chicken, burgers, wings and few items like lamb chops and tandoori chicken. I would recommend sticking to the chicken before I go to the more mouth water details of this story. I had tried the lamb chops and the piri peri burger, frankly they were probably just on the menu for those wanting an alternative.
We ordered chicken platters, chicken wings, piri piri wings, halloumi cheese on top of the chops and drinks. This was an opportunity to try the lemon and herb, the mild and the hot variations. Service is quick, tables clean and bright light so you can see your food as well as others chowing down on masses of chickens.
The hot chicken was the one for me, a nice and crispy layer coated with marinate. A slight lemon under tone, the spice just edge towards extra hot with the edges of the chicken burnt, ever so lightly and not to leave a charcoal taste in the mouth. The chicken, possibly brined or steamed was soft inside, moist and ready to peal off it’s bone and in to your mouth. You had to remind your self to chew and not devour it before some of it’s goodness vaporised away – if that was at all possible.
The marinate was an after touch, similar to Nandos and other places. You could they all had a base flavour, what ever it was I could tell that even if it wasn’t hot or lemon and herb, this chicken would taste damn good. They serve it fresh, off the grill straight to your plate pipping, something else to note for you local’s, Franzos delivers and the food is consistent.
Back to the chicken, the wings need a mention here. Small wings but oh so good, they have a similar sweet smokey taste and giving you fund memories of the bigger bites you just had. Bite size enough for you to pluck all the meat of the bones with each bite, they are like mini versions of the the bigger pieces of chicken. I could eat a bucket of them, literally 20 maybe 30 in one go, an idea I may leave for a rainy day.
So there you have it, this chicken is good. So good, that you probably won’t be going to your usual after trying it. Now don’t be trying items such as chops and burgers instead, in my opinion thats not what they are about. They have got their chicken spot on, possibly some of the best in town which maybe why the queues to this place are literally out of the door! You may have fond reminiscing moments about Franzos, I warn you now!