The Bok Shop came to Brighton a few months ago now and there was a lot of hype around their opening. They excited us Brightonians by bringing something new to the city.
We have some places doing great chicken wings (see The Joker and Meat Liquor) and we’ve got KFC. What we didn’t have was anywhere serving gourmet fried chicken in a modern setting. That’s what The Bok Shop promised to bring to the city.
Josh decided to treat me to dinner at The Bok Shop to cheer me up after a week of being ill and to satisfy my KFC cravings. Looking through the reviews on their Facebook, most people had given them 5 stars so we were confident they were going to wow us. Sadly, we were wrong.
The interior is modern, with black tiles covering the walls, wooden benches to sit on, lots of plants in the corners and copper lights hanging from the ceiling.
The premises are quite small, there are only four benches to sit on inside and there are a couple of small tables outside on the pavement. When we arrived at 7pm it was still quiet with just one other couple eating, but another large group had arrived by the time we left.
We were seated and given a couple of menus which come with colouring in pages to keep you entertained whilst you wait for your order.
We don’t drink very often so it was nice to see they had more soft drink options than just coke or lemonade. We both ordered an Appletiser but they have a large selection of beers, wines and spirits on offer if that tickles your fancy.
One thing The Bok Shop does really well is cater to dietary requirements. All of their chicken burgers can be made vegan, vegetarian or gluten free.
They substitute the chicken for faux chicken for the non-meat eaters and they use vegan mayo, vegan cheese and sourdough rolls for vegans. Everything can be made gluten free but it’s not clear whether it is fried in the same fryers as the rest of the food. It’s always worth checking in these cases on the day!
*Edit: since writing this it has been confirmed that they do not fry GF burgers separately so do be wary if you have celiac disease.
One of the main reasons we wanted to visit The Bok Shop is because they do the best side dish known to man: mashed potato with gravy. They plaster photos of it all over their social media, so imagine my horror when I was told there was NO MASHED POTATO that evening.
What I don’t understand is why they couldn’t make more? It was 7pm on a Saturday night, surely they were expecting to be busy? We heard the server telling other tables there wouldn’t be mashed potato that evening so it sounded like that was the case for the rest of the night. All you need is a few potatoes and some butter?
Anyway, I was visibly heartbroken when they told me the news so they offered to give me a side of gravy with some fries which was nice of them.
Josh ordered The Hot As Cluck burger (£8.50) which is the spicy option on the menu. You get a deep fried chicken thigh fillet, spicy chipotle slaw, lettuce and pickled cucumber. He chose fries as his side and also got a pot of Bok BBQ sauce to dip in.
I ordered The Classic (£7.50) which is a deep fried chicken thigh fillet, lettuce, lemon kewpie mayo and added cheese for 50p. I had my fries with gravy and a pot of Bok Burger Sauce.
The chicken was juicy in both burgers, but that is where our praise ends.
The batter on both burgers only tasted of oil, there was no seasoning or flavour whatsoever. Josh’s burger packed a punch because of the chipotle sauce but that was the only source of flavour. I couldn’t detect the lemon keypie mayo on my burger.
The gravy was underwhelming, lacking depth and punch and made me crave KFC gravy!
What’s most worrying is that our food was delivered within 5-10 minutes of placing our order, yet none of it was hot. We’ve made fried chicken in a deep fryer before, it comes out piping hot and stays that way for longer than 5 minutes.
The chips were also just warm on arrival. It wasn’t busy in there, so something doesn’t quite add up.
We can’t fault the customer service we received whilst we were there. Our sever was polite and friendly, and as I mentioned above, our food arrived promptly.
We left The Bok Shop feeling disappointed and wishing we had ordered KFC and stayed in. There’s been a lot of hype about how good this place is but sadly we didn’t see that on our visit.