Leave it to New York to make humdrum chicken oh-so-chic. Rotisserie and fried chicken are two humble dishes that are taking center stage, but this isn’t your mom’s cooking. In true New York style, these old favorites are getting a foodie twist. Check out these three spots for a new take on the classics.
Rotisserie Georgette, Upper East Side
“New Yorkers who love to dine out are extremely discerning, well-travelled, and have access to the best of the best. At the same time, they have little patience for fussiness and pretension,” says restaurant founder Georgette Farkas, who previously worked alongside world-famous chef Daniel Boulud. “This makes them the perfect audience for mixing high and low; in other words, superb quality food, but without any unnecessary song and dance.”
This Upper East Side eatery around the corner from Barneys New York walks that fine line. The rich upholstery and plush carpets exude an old-world style that prepares you for the elevated, French-inspired classics on the menu – but the exposed-brick walls and steel tables let you know this is a still a place where you can relax. While there is a full range of rotisserie-based dishes, the amiable servers will always recommend their must-try item: the poule de luxe for two.
Rotisserie Georgette‘s executive chef, Chad Brauze, dry-brines free-range chickens (from Pennsylvania Amish Country) overnight in a signature mix of salt and spices, before cooking them on spits over an open flame – which you can get a peek of if you head to the back of the dining room. It’s a classic rotisserie chicken: You’ll marvel at how moist the meat is, while the skin is perfectly crispy. For the poule de luxe version, the rich flavor of the chicken is taken to the next level with wild mushroom stuffing under the breast and a heaping portion of foie gras. But be warned: The fans are dedicated here, and reservations are a must.
Root & Bone, East Village
If rotisserie chicken is the uptown version of the elevated chicken trend, then fried chicken is most certainly the downtown version. There are quite a few places serving up their traditional renditions, but two newcomers have raised the stakes.
“Root & Bone‘s fried chicken is exceptionally different from anything we have ever tasted before!” says Chef Janine Booth, who founded her Alphabet City restaurant alongside fellow Top Chef alum Jeff McInnis. Like Rotisserie Georgette, they start with high-caliber birds and a signature brine, but that’s where the comparison ends. The bird gets dredged in flour, seasoned with a mix of spices, and then dropped into a pressure fryer. Finally, the chicken is tossed with lemon seasoning. You’ll be surprised by how remarkably crispy the chicken is, its sweet, citrusy flavor set off perfectly by sweet-yet-spicy Tabasco honey spiked with bourbon. Add a buckwheat waffle with cheddar cheese and whiskey maple syrup to complete the ultimate foodie fried chicken dish.
The food may be elevated, but the decor is mercifully casual, featuring loads of rustic wood and exposed-bulb lighting — so you don’t have to suppress the compulsion to gnaw the final bits of meat right off the bone. Take note: The waits get long due to a no-reservation policy, and space is tight in this 45-seat Southern restaurant, so it may not be date-friendly. But that all depends on your date.
Birds & Bubbles, Lower East Side
If you’re looking for something more classy, try Birds & Bubbles on the Lower East Side instead. The narrow rooms with exposed brick lack the down-home charm of Root & Bone, but the capacity is double – including a back garden – and they do take reservations. Plus, there’s both novelty and romance in the restaurant’s signature pairing of – if you haven’t guessed yet – fried chicken and Champagne.
Chef Sarah Simmons offers a range of Southern specialties, including an excellent spin on deviled eggs topped with Sriracha flakes, and a crowd-pleasing shrimp and grits. But first-timers invariably go for the splitty-split: half a buttermilk fried chicken with a split of Champagne. Strange? Perhaps. Delicious? You bet. Boring? No chance.