The Late-Night PFC Experience


So I’ve been out with friends in Chelsea tonight. I take the night bus home and God bless the night bus. Even though it takes freaking forever, at least there’s a way to get home past midnight that doesn’t involve dropping a fortune on a cab ride (ahem…Boston, take notice). When I finally get back to Clerkenwell from Chelsea, it’s about 2:30 a.m., I am starving, and I am wondering: What on earth is open at this hour? Where can one get some soakage? Lo and behold, the N19 drops me off right in front of a PFC, and oh yes, I am gonna get myself some. What is PFC, you say? Allow me to explain. Although they do have KFC in England (though British KFC franchisees are apparently ignorant of the meaning of “crispy”), KFC is not generally open at this ungodly hour. They don’t eat this late in Kentucky. But they do wherever the people who run this Perfect Fried Chicken joint are from, and I am gonna have myself some perfect fried chicken. I march right into the harshly neon-lit place (I’ve always wondered about this. Nobody looks good after 1 a.m., much less in this kind of lighting. Is it a ploy to make you hurry up and go home faster, after you’ve caught a glimpse of your horrifying, melting face in the side-wall mirror?) and am immediately flummoxed by the backlit menu. Fries? Aren’t they called “chips” here? This must be some American-style joint. That makes me feel at home and gives me the confidence to order, very loudly, in my blatant American accent, four pieces of fried chicken and a regular fries. No, I’m not eating it here! I’ve seen that mirror, for God’s sake! Take away, please! I then march on home, clutching my warm cardboard box of deep-fried soakage.

When I open the box and sample the fries, my first thought is “Dirty, dirty oil!” That oil may very well be the same oil that fueled the miracle of Hanukkah. They’re still reusing it, up here in Islington. How thrifty. Then I try the chicken. Hm. Greasy, yes, but not so “perfect.” Apparently the PFC folks, just like British KFC owners, are unaware of the fact that the whole point of deep-frying chicken is to make it crispy. It’s sog city up in here, and the “just the way you like it!” slogan on the cardboard box is mocking me, because “cold and soggy” is NOT just the way I like my fried chicken. Oh well. Beggars can’t be choosers, as they say. It was PFC or some mediocre kebab, and I was not feeling the kebab tonight. But probably the only cure for this bitter disappointment will be some Full English Brekkie tomorrow.

“Hot & Tasty” – maybe the ironic quotes should have been a tip-off, but legend has it that vodka makes it harder to see ironic quotes.