Chicken is an unruly beast – cooking it, that is. While it sucks up and carries any seasoning you like really well, it is often so dry as to suck the moisture from your mouth at the same time. But this Battersea spot changes the game when it comes to peri peri chicken, says Olivia Emily. Ironically, there is also a Nando’s just a few doors down.
Is This London’s Best Peri-Peri Chicken?
When I arrived at Solis on a chilly Thursday evening, I wasn’t expecting to eat the best plate of chicken I’ve ever had in my life. The restaurant is unfussy and unassuming, a yellow-hued diner-like space with blue tiled and oak panelled walls lined with old school artwork and photographs, and plastic gingham tablecloths topped with candles and wine glasses. Tucked away in Battersea Power Station, just across the hall from the chic-looking cocktail bar Control Room B, Solis backs onto the Arcade food market, with wooden dividers demarcating the end of the restaurant and the beginning of the next space over, where bubbly groups chat over Thursday night drinks.
Aside from the quirkier starters – croquetas, spicy tuna mayo filled eggs and grilled halves of sweet corn cobs – the menu is incredibly simple: chicken or steak, fries and salad or no fries and salad. The delicate steak is thinly sliced and served medium rare with a generous dollop of Solis’ special steak sauce, a green, peppery, moreish creamy sauce – delicious.
But the chicken – oh, the chicken – is what you should definitely opt for. I’ve never tucked into such juicy, tender chicken as Solis’. More than anything, sinking my teeth into the grilled spatchcock reminded me of how dry chicken normally is – so normal that I barely even notice it anymore. It’s just one of those meats that leans on the drier side, not helped by restaurant heat lamps and the dreaded fear of salmonella when cooking at home.
But not this: Solis’ dish is bursting with flavour, and though the half spatchcock chicken swims in vibrant red aji aji oil, the skin remains crisp. It epitomises the desires of the restaurant’s co-founder Ana Gonçalves, who says, ‘I wanted to create a place for everyone, that serves the type of food I have experienced since I was little; very simple, but full of flavour and approachable.’ This chicken is just that: soft, juicy, simple, moreish, bursting with flavour. It pairs impeccably well with the zingy spice of the generous pile of thin, crispy fries, plus the refreshing Asador salad (sliced onion and tomatoes, dressed with oregano and olive oil). I groan with delight with every bite, and we order an extra portion of fries, just to relive the tongue-sizzling sensation of eating them over and over again. Wash it down with a refreshing glass of white wine sangria, and you have the makings of a perfect meal – especially if you’re a peri peri chicken fan.
Gonçalves is one half of the team behind TĀ TĀ Eatery, with her partner Zijun Meng, a duo that is challenging London’s food landscape one project at a time, this time drawing on the cuisines of Spain, Portugal, Uruguay and Argentina. Why not open a restaurant with only two main courses on offer? Especially when they are this good?
Not to forget the desserts, of course, of which there are two again: a sundae, and a cheesecake. Opt for the cheesecake to try the creamiest baked cheesecake you’ll ever have the privilege of eating, topped with sharp berry sauce. Though incredibly delicious again, more than anything, this cheesecake helped subdue the memories of the chicken I’d just eaten. Without it, I might have toyed quite seriously with the idea of another portion. Instead, I’ll just be back in the near future.
Find Solis on the first floor in Battersea Power Station, next to Arcade. It’s open Tuesday to Saturday, 11am–10pm and 11am–8pm on Sundays. arcadefoodhall.com
Battersea Power Station, Nine Elms, London SW11 8AL