You knew I was going to have to try Crispy Bird soon. I mean it’s fried chicken, which I love, and it’s Patachou, which I also like. I had been kind of waiting for the crowds to die down and we lucked into a table the other day for lunch on my birthday with the family. I like what they have done with the interior of the space, even if they did displace one of my favorite lunch places, Barking Dog, in order to make the space.
Anyhow, the staff was very friendly, and in the beginning, the service was very prompt and efficient. It’s a challenge for the servers in there too—it’s still a very small space with a lot of tables, so they have to do a bit of a dance to get to their tables. The menu is very appealing, and there were several things we wanted to try, but we settled on a few to share amongst the four of us.
To start with, we had an order of the biscuits ($6). You get two large biscuits in an order and they are served with whipped maple brown butter. Hmmm. I liked the way these biscuits looked, but they were really dense and kind of bland. I appreciated the soft butter (which was more like butter with some maple syrup alongside), but a little salt would balance this sweetness better. My daughter, who typically inhales just about any type of bread, didn’t finish her half. We left a fair amount.
Between the four of us, we had the thigh/leg combo ($12), two orders of the breast ($14), and the fried chicken sandwich ($10). For sides we had the mac and cheese ($8) and the black-eyed peas ($8). Of the chicken dishes, I would say the sandwich was probably the best thing. It’s a boneless chicken thigh piece (which is one of my favorite pieces of fried chicken) on a bun topped with aioli, slaw and pickles. The chicken was good, and I loved the pickles. They had a great combo of mustard flavor and a teeny heat and a little sweet. They were great with the chicken. None of us were fans of the slaw, which was strangely soft and lacking much flavor. The leg on the leg thigh combo was my next favorite piece because the meat was tender and it was easy to get the crispy skin with each bite. The thigh was not as meaty, and heavier on the crust. Also, my kids both ordered the breasts, which were dusted with salt, which you could see on the chicken and plate. The thigh/leg combo had no such salt, and needed salt. When I asked for some they brought me a precious little dish with a couple of pinches of salt in it. I think it’s a little presumptuous to think no one will want salt or pepper on fried chicken, to the point that you don’t even offer shakers at all. I can see not putting them on the table, but…. Anyhow, the breasts were the weakest pieces, which isn’t overly surprising to me. Sadly, this chicken suffered the fate of many a fried chicken breast. They were huge, and pretty dry. The thing about this chicken is the crust is really tasty and crunchy (hence the name I guess), but the rest of the chicken is just ok. And maybe I just like my fried chicken salty, but much of it needed salt as well. The sandwich excelled because it had sauce and flavor right on it. The chicken was definitely best when eaten at the same time as one of those pickles.
As far as the sides, the black-eyed peas with the egg yolk confit, “potlikker emulsion” and fried greens was the star. It has nice flavor, as well as a hit of acid. And I liked the crunch of the fried kale on top. And the egg yolk certainly didn’t hurt. This was probably the best thing on the table the whole meal. We also had the mac and cheese after reading a lot about it. I love Gruyere, which is the cheese they use. But it is extremely rich. Extremely. Out of the two chunks served, we didn’t even finish one between three of us. I liked a few bites of it with the chicken, but whoa. It’s not your traditional creamy take, it’s baked in a block and somewhat dry, but that didn’t bother me. Hubby didn’t care for it, but I enjoyed the flavor quite a bit. Just in small doses.
So the place was jammed, and the service overall was good. I waited quite awhile for a second glass of wine, which was not my server’s fault, as he explained he was just waiting for it to be poured. The bartender was making a ton of mixed drinks and it took quite awhile. Maybe a second bartender would help until business calms down a bit. Just a thought.
Overall, it was not bad. My general theme is that everything is very pretty there, but it’s a little skin deep. And is it a place I will wait in a line to eat? Ehh…probably not. But I will give it another try one of these days. So, tell me about your experiences.
115 East 49th Street