Knockout Chicken is a fried chicken spot in Kensington Market serving halal versions of staples like chicken sandwiches, wing combos, and mac n' cheese.
The old home of vegan bakery Cosmic Treats is no longer the quaint herbivore-friendly place it once was: Knockout specializes specifically in hormone-free bird, delivered straight from halal farms like Sargent in Milton.
Staying on brand, Ibrahim Nehme of Kensington-born Top Gun chain originally intended on naming this restaurant after the Stallone classic Rocky, but ended up calling it Knockout instead.
Like other mainstream fried chicken faves like Popeyes or KFC, there's no flour or eggs used for frying, just batter, though Knockout's mixture, comparatively, goes way lighter on the herbs and spices.
You'll find the menu adheres strictly to its theme: every chicken sandwich ($11 or $14 with fries) has boxing-related names like the Bare-Knuckle or the vegan Underdog, all on brioche buns.
The Uppercut has fried chicken tossed in buffalo sauce, cheddar cheese, pickle and coleslaw.
You can also get sides of their sauces made in-house, like their special yellow curry sauce which is far from spicy but definitely adds a rare flavour to the burger experience.
The Left Hook comes with all the same toppings, but fried chicken is tossed in a jerk sauce.
The Southpaw has havarti cheese, pickle, chipotle aioli, and coleslaw. The latter is actually one of my favourite things about this place: it sits nicely between two camps of coleslaw types, perfect for people who love both the creamy and tangy kinds.
A daily "ringside" special switches up daily, but always costs $30 flat. It's an impressive amount of food for the cost.
The day we arrive it's a smattering of stuff including two different burgers, a bunch of wings, five pieces of fried chicken, and popcorn chicken (I thought popcorn chicken was infallible but I guess I thought wrong.)
Wings are 6 pieces for $8, up to 30 pieces for $35. You can choose from mild to suicide hot sauces, buffalo, or jerk side, and orders come with blue cheese sauce and the obligatory celery and carrot.
Fried chicken combos like the Welterweight ($14.50 with bone in) comes with four pieces of fried chicken with your choice of sauce, slaw, and fries. Drinks aren't included.
The K.O. poutine might be the most outrageous order, befitting of a post-parking lot smoke sesh meal. A $10 regular-sized box gets a gooey mess of chicken strips mixed with fries, gravy, and curd cheese.
Coming in second on the dyspepsia scale is the mac n' cheese popcorn chicken, $10 for a regular or $15 for a large. Considering everything happening in this dish, I still feel inclined to add a generous amount of hot sauce.
Knockout has a fairly spacious patio with a red awning, and a great view of Bellevue Square Park, where you can go lie down after gorging yourself on everything fried.