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The Two Minute Review: Benjamin's Hot Chicken

What should we know about Benjamin's Hot Chicken?


Benjamin's Hot Chicken took flight in lockdown when chef Ben Lowney found himself out of a job with plenty of time to experiment in the kitchen. He loved fried chicken, particularly the Nashville hot kind, and felt there was a gap in the Dublin market.



They started serving 'sandos' at The Village Yard in Ballybrack, quickly earning a local fanbase, but when that closed in Autumn 2022 Benjamin's moved into The Vintage Inn in Irishtown, a lovely local boozer that hadn't been serving food, and probably needed to with more and more pubs saying their businesses aren't viable without it.



What should we have?


Pick between 'sandos' (thigh meat) and 'tendies' (breast meat), and there's always specials. There's white fish and vegan sandos if you're not a chicken lover, and sides consist of fries and slaw, with dips also.



A special of tooth-crunchingly crispy BAM (Black Axe Mangal) wings came dusted with the London restaurant's spice mix, topped with roast garlic tahini, pickled jalapenos, coriander and shallots. It's a good dish, not lacking in flavour, but would have been better with a more generous hand on the tahini, which might have helped the shallots to stick instead of ending up in the bottom of the tray.

 


We had every intention of ordering the original hot chicken (mild, medium or spicy), but at the last minute swerved to the Middle East Feast. This chicken thigh came dusted with za'atar, and was topped with roast garlic tahini, sumac onions, parsley, pickled burnt chilli, shankleesh (Middle Eastern cheese) and zhoug (hot chilli sauce). There was nothing to fault about this burger, except that it was difficult to pass to anyone else for a bite.



Every taste receptor in your mouth will go off with this one, from the juicy meat to the pickled onions, the creamy cheese to the chilli heat - there's no flavour left untickd. They have the batter, brining and frying down to an art form, and if someone could invent a bottom bun that didn't get soggy it would be perfect.



Ranch fries come with 'secret and spicy seasoning', ranch dressing, pickled onions and bacon, and were hot and crisp, the ranch playing off nicely again the onions, with the bits of bacon like buried treasure coming up with every other forkful.

 


The one draw back of Benjamin's is that the chicken isn't free range. If Chimac, Cluck and Mad Egg can do it, so can everyone else. Chimac and Mad Egg's burgers are both around €2 more, which we'd pay any day for a better provenance bird.


What's the seating like?


The pub has plenty of seats (high and low) and even its own little snug. They also have a couple of big screens for sport and a nice outdoor area which we imagine is bursting on sunny days.



Why should I go?


Food options in Irishtown aren't plentiful, and being able to get pub food this tasty is a challenge citywide. It's a great stop the next time you want a few pints with some fuss free, flavour-filled food, and dog owners will be delighted to know that well behaved pooches are welcome.



Benjamin's Hot Chicken @ The Vintage Inn

Thursday - Sunday

74 Irishtown Road, Dublin 4

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