Bird of Prey: new eatery at Manchester’s Circle Square run by a family on a mission to make fried chicken cool

The restaurant, located at Circle Square on Oxford Road, is the brainchild of a family group with years of experience in hospitality led by Asad Abbas who had always dreamed of opening his own business.

A new Manchester city centre eatery is on a mission to make fried chicken cool.

Bird of Prey, on Oxford Road, is the realisation of a long-held dream of Asad Abbas to have his own business.

And his three brothers and wife are all on board with the Circle Square concern as they attempt to put their stamp on the food scene of the city they love to call home.

What is Bird of Prey and who is behind it?

Bird of Prey is being run by Asad, his wife Sadaf Bukhari and his brothers Saify, Saj and Abbas, all of whom live together in an eight-bedroom house in the Crumpsall area of Manchester.

The Abbas family moved over to England from Pakistan two decades ago, with Sadaf moving north from Maidenhead when she married Asad.

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All four brothers have been working in hospitality and catering for more than a decade, doing a number of kitchen roles between them including working as chefs.

However, as Sadaf reveals, Asad had for some time dreamed of having his own food business, an ambition which has now become reality in the shape of Bird of Prey.

She said: “I remember when I was getting to know Asad one thng he kept saying was that he had this unfulfilled passion to run his own business.

The team running Bird of Prey at Circle Square

“Eventually we decided we would take the risk and go for it. We started looking at places for lease pre-Covid at the start of 2020, so it has been a minimum of two and a half years in the making.”

Through his years of hoping one day to have his own place, Asad was equally clear exactly what food he wanted to serve in it.

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He said: “I just love fried chicken, it’s the thing I’ve always thought about basing a business around. I was telling all my family and friends that fried chicken is a very cool thing.

“When people want grilled chicken they think of Nando’s, I want to create something so if you want fried chicken you think about Bird of Prey.

“I want to change people’s mindsets.”

Sadaf added: “What Asad wanted to do was make fried chicken sexy. He was absolutely convinced from the inception of the idea that he wanted to take fried chicken and make it awesome.”

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What is Bird of Prey like and what does it serve?

The centrepiece of Bird of Prey’s menu is its double-dipped buttermilk fried chicken which has a house flour, spice and herb mix applied to it.

The team said international travel was involved in coming up with the right recipe as they sought to ensure they were putting perfect poultry in the frier.

The birds are then dished up as a selection of fried chicken sandwiches, wings and strips, while diners can also enjoy sides and a buttermilk fried chicken and waffles breakfast menu which is available on weekend mornings.

Burgers and milkshakes at Bird of Prey

To ensure different dietary requirements are catered for there is halal meat, vegan options (which the team called “flightless birds” and a vegetarian burger made with halloumi.

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There is also a range of milkshakes which, like the soundtrack of ‘80s to early Noughties hip-hop which can be heard in the restaurant, has been chose for its old-school, nostalgic properties.

What has the reception to Bird of Prey been like?

Sadaf, who brought her project management skills to the creation of Bird of Prey as she previously worked on large civil engineering infrastructure projects for the likes of Network Rail and the Ministry of Defence, says the response of her hometown to their vision has so far been extremely positive.

And they are looking forward to seeing what the following months bring in their location at Circle Square, which is itself still becoming established as a mixture of office and start-up spaces, retail and leisure businesses and homes following a lengthy process of transforming it from its previous use as a BBC site in Manchester.

Sadaf said: “The community of Manchester is so receptive and encouraging. We’ve had people walking in through the doors who had seen the place under construction and wanted to wish us all the best.

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“These are absolute strangers who don’t owe us anything. I’ve never experienced anything like the community here.

“Circle Square is a very interesting location because the old BBC building has been closed for quite a while and people see that construction has been happening for years, but now it’s not just a construction site and there’s something new here.

“We are going to be doing a lot of work over the summer establishing ourselves and launching initiatives to engage the freshers and welcome them when they arrive in September.”

What does the team hope the future holds for Bird of Prey?

Talking to the team at Bird of Prey their pride at being Mancunians is clear, so when asked about possible expansion plans their first desire is to make the eatery a well-known name all across their home city.

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Asad said: “We have spoken about the future so much and it is very clear to me. It has been designed on a franchise model and it’s supposed to be scalable, but we are going to establish ourselves in Manchester before we even think of moving outside the city.

“Manchester is our home and it’s important for everybody to know our brand identity. We are made in Manchester and made for Manchester.”