Life

Eating Out: Dirt Bird brings rotisserie chicken feeds to Ormeau Road

 Dirt Bird on the Ormeau Road in Belfast 
Seamus Maloney

Dirt Bird,

355 Ormeau Road,

Belfast,

BT7 3GL.

028 9521 5144

Dirtbirdbelfast.com

 

JULIET may have wondered "what’s in a name?", but as with so many of life’s great imponderables, it takes the combined wisdom of Bart and Homer to get to the heart of the matter.

Lisa: "His name doesn’t matter. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

Bart: "Not if you called ’em stench blossoms."

Homer: "Or crapweeds."

Marge: "I’d sure hate to get a dozen crapweeds for Valentine’s Day. I’d rather have candy."

Homer: "Not if they were called scumdrops."

And it’s probably fair to assume Mrs Simpson wouldn’t fancy her romantic Valentine’s Day dinner being somewhere that calls itself Dirt Bird.

After setting up shop successfully in west Belfast, a second location has opened on the Ormeau Road in the south of the city, serving various iterations of roasted chicken – or as their signage proudly proclaims, 'mother cluckin’ good chicken'. Sigh.

Indeed, lest anyone still be left wondering about the level they’re aiming for, at least in terms of their marketing, there’s also an arrow outside directing the way to 'saucy birds'.

It’s all a bit juvenile, and the 'saucy birds' stuff is pathetic – but does it matter?

It’s obviously been done to get attention, especially social media attention.

A more pertinent question when it comes to Dirt Bird may be: 'do you like Nando’s?', because the South African peri peri poultry behemoth is their obvious template.

While it looks like a takeaway – screens above the counter with alluring shots of various bits of chicken on rotation, as well as actual bits of chicken rotating in plain sight – the seating area is much more like a restaurant than an afterthought.

There are a couple of booths, a bench and a few tables. The food comes in baskets and your condiments are in little steel buckets. There is, of course, bare plaster, exposed beams and splashes of neon. There’s also cheery, welcoming staff behind that counter to take your order.

It also smells amazing. Given that they’re roasting chickens, it should. But, still: it smacks you in the mouth as soon as you walk in the door. They probably do a healthy trade from people popping in to ask directions and coming out with a hundred weight of poultry they never knew they wanted.

As in Nando’s, you get whole and half birds, wings, breasts, thighs and wraps at varying spice levels. Beyond chicken, you can get a burger or ribs or an undefined (on the menu at least) 'vegetarian option'.

All the other bits and pieces are fine but everything in a place like this stands and falls on the quality of the chicken – and this stuff is good. It all tastes like chicken, which is a not always a guaranteed start.

The breasts in the burger and wrap are juicy and well cooked, as are the wings, though they could have done with a little more sauce.

The stars, by a long way, are the thighs: it’s a generous portion and they’re deeply flavoured enough to stand up to the spice levels.

Pork ribs fall off the bone in the non-negotiable way they must and, as part of a sharing meal that includes the burger, the wrap, the wings, a couple of side orders and a big bottle of 'mineral', as my mum would say, it’s a lot of good quality food for £25.95.

The burgers, wings, thighs and ribs are all between £7.50 and £8.50 with a side, though a slice of cheese on your burger will cost another £1, which doesn’t make sense when all that meat costs so relatively little, but that’s not an issue restricted to Dirt Bird.

While the flavours are good, everything is a little sweet – the gravy, the sauce on the chicken and the peri peri sprinkle on the decent chips, which makes them taste like school lunchbox snack favourite Bikers. OK, maybe better than decent.

It’s not the same as Nando’s – chargrilled chicken there, rotisserie roasted here – and it’s not as expensive, but it’s not so different that you can’t make a straight comparison and say it’s not as good.

But it’s certainly not bad – and good enough to warrant going back. Just maybe not for Valentine’s Day.

:: THE BILL

Sharing meal £25.95

Cheese x2 £2

Boneless thighs plus side order £8.50

Chicken gravy £1.50

Total £37.95

Dirt Bird on the Ormeau Road in Belfast  

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