It's a brave move when you are already an established and well loved restaurant to take the plunge and make a complete menu change, even if it's just temporarily. If it wasn't for the fact that the fine ladies and gents that run King Richard III Pub in Leicester already had a fabulous reputation based on their previous pop up turned permanent grub spot Crafty Burger I would have been concerned by such a move; but I know by now that this lot know exactly what they're doing when it comes to delicious eats. For some time now I'd been hearing rumblings of amazing fried chicken coming out of the Crafty kitchen at St Martins during lunchtimes and believe me I have a seriously happy relationship with their Krispy Klucker Burger, so when the news reached me that KRIII would be hosting a Crafty Chicks three month pop up focusing on this world loved fried treat I was pretty thrilled.

It just so happened that during the week of the pop up launch my husband accepted a new job role and so it seemed to us that a fried chicken dinner and drinks was the perfect way to celebrate. I messaged the team ahead of time and asked them if they could bring my victorious other half a congratulations whiskey when we sat down which they very kindly did - the best start to a celebratory meal I think and it was thoroughly enjoyed as we tried to decide what to have off the menu as I sipped at my Watermelon Elderflower Cooler. Gin, elderflower liqueur, fresh watermelon juice - what's not to love?

There's a nice selection of starters and then for the main event there are three options to choose from - fried chicken pieces, barbecue grilled chicken pieces or a selection of chicken sandwiches. By the way vegan and vegetarian buddies, you can have any option on the menu made with seitan instead of chicken so there's no losing out at Crafty Chicks! 

During our wedding trip to America we developed quite a taste for fried pickles so unsurprisingly this was our choice of starter to share, but we ended up having these as another side dish to our mains. We've eaten a lot of these crispy-sour-sweet treats by now but I can honestly say that these are the best that I've ever had. Long slices of pickled gherkin were dipped in a satisfyingly crunchy thin batter that was fried to golden perfection before being given a little drizzle of hot sauce and served up with a gorgeously creamy blue cheese dip. This wasn't your standard chain American restaurant gloopy blue cheese sauce that gets dumped alongside chicken wings oh no, this was decadently creamy with chunks of real blue cheese and obviously made fresh that day - dreamy!

After lots of back and forth we finally decided on our main dishes and I went for the Katsu Sando Sandwich. The different dishes involve several different readings/batters for the chicken and as in true katsu style this was coated in crispy panko, the king of breadcrumbs. This crunchy delight was then sandwiched between lightly toasted sliced white bread along with shredded cabbage, sticky sweet tonkatsu sauce and one of my all time favourite condiments kewpie mayo! Both me and Pete who managed to snag a bite before it was all gone loved this creation - crispy, crunchy, soft, charred, sweet, creamy - it was just wonderful. Personally for me the only possible improvement would have been something pickle-esque such as a thinly sliced quick pickled cucumber or maybe even just a squeeze of lemon over the shredded cabbage for a nice zippy twang but there really is no criticism I can give this sandwich.

Pete went for the Masa Chicken Tacos which was one of the other dishes I was trying to pick between. If you're not already in the know masa is the finely ground corn that tortillas are made of, so we were really intrigued to see them being used as a breading for the chicken itself. Being so finely textured this made for a really light and crispy coating with a more sweetly earthy flavour than your standard flour fried chicken. The tasty strips were laid lovingly on top of a lovely soft tortilla along with shredded cabbage and grilled sweetcorn then drizzled with a habanero pepper mayo alongside a little pot of mild tomatoey salsa rojo for dipping. I didn't get a look in on these babies as they were gone so quickly - a sure sign that they were damn delicious - but I was informed that the flavour combination was gorgeous especially the blackened taste of the corn with the spicy creamy mayo and rich chicken.

As I knew we would we went all out on the side dishes and split four between the two of us! It's clear that Crafty Chicks have taken inspiration from Korean fried chicken flavours like those you see at the now infamous (and rightly so) London chain Chick n Sours and I was thrilled to see two of my favourite Asian accompaniments of watermelon and cucumber 'salads'. The cucumber was served pickled in a kimchi style, umami rich with soy sauce and the crunch of sesame seeds while the watermelon was lightly picked and tossed with fresh chilli, mint and a good handful of crushed salty peanuts. If you've never had watermelon in a savoury dish you really haven't lived, it's just fantastic and cleanses the palette wonderfully - please please give it a try!

We also had a dish of Poutine, a Canadian invention of French fries topped with cheese and gravy - sounds odd but it really is yummy and Pete polished this bowl off with ease. The chicken gravy was top notch as you would expect and on top of Crafty's famously good fries it was a real treat especially with the addition of gooey cheese.

I also had to get a portion of the Blackened Sweetcorn, one of my all time favourite eats. A street food staple in several countries a cob of corn is grilled until it starts to char before its whipped off the heat and sprinkled with sea salt and sometimes other goodies like lime zest and cheese. I won't lie this sweet salty dish was all mine and I wasn't mad about it, in truth if I hadn't already been full I could easily have eaten about five of these yummy yellow babies.

As you can tell we were thoroughly chuffed with our Crafty Chicks meal and I'd also like to mention how lovely the staff were and always are at KRIII. Despite them being incredibly busy with the lovely weather and their sweet little beer garden everyone is always on top form making sure everything is to your liking.

My advice - get yourself down there before the end of October for a meal, I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed. Here's hoping that Crafty Chicks gets its own permanent restaurant in the future too!

You can book your table right here - www.kriiipub.co.uk

* This meal was not in exchange for a review, it was paid for by us and we enjoyed our dinner so much that I wanted to give them a shout out! As always all opinions are 100% honest and my own.

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