winner, winner chicken (and bubbles) dinner

I was just reading about Sarah Simmons’ new restaurant, Birds and Bubbles, as I received an invite from N to go check it out during her recent trip to NYC in September. The wait to get a prime time seat was a bit on the longer side, so I felt super lucky that my friend from Detroit was so on top of the Manhattan food scene. I went to one of Simmons’ City Grit dinners back in 2012 and had been planning on coming back. This was a good alternative!

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When T and I arrived, they had already been seated and were perusing the fabulous menu. The selection of bubbles to accompany your order is extensive. We had the H. Billiot Fils Brut Rose, which was a raspberry rose that was amazing. The list on their website gives you an idea.

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They started with an order of deviled eggs. I didn’t have any (not a fan) but as I have always heard, the verdict was that they were amazing (especially the flavor added by the sriracha flakes).

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For main course, we ordered several of the winner, winner, chicken dinners – which is a whole chicken, three sides, and a bread basket. They tried to dissuade us from ordering two for our party of six, especially since one was ordering their own dish, but we insisted. Note: their leftovers reheat fabulously, and make a perfect dish to bring to potluck brunch the next day. Just saying…

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The chicken itself was outstanding. Not greasy at all. The breading was not very thick and was slightly crispy, just the way it should be. Being from the South, you could say I am a bit picky when it comes to Southern food, but knowing Simmons’ North Carolina roots and passion for fried chicken, I did not expect anything but the best.

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For sides, the grits were good. The green chiles were a nice addition. I was not a big fan of the vidalia onion soufflé. It was somewhat runny and soggy. It was the only low point out of the dishes on the table. For me, the unexpected winner of the entire meal was the slaw. Slaw, you say? Yes, slaw! I’m not usually a big fan of slaw, usually avoiding it. This slaw though is amazing. Definitely a must have on the menu. The buttermilk biscuits were definitely the star of the bread basket, but I pretty much knew at buttermilk.

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For dessert, I highly recommend the banana pudding. It’s a perfect balance of savory (touch of salt) and sweet. It’s enough for two if you’re looking for a smaller dessert option. So good. We went shortly after the restaurant opened, which is likely why the service was on the slower side. I look forward to going back again to check it out again in the future.

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Much thanks to Ms. N on the reservation!

Birds and Bubbles – 100B Forsyth Street (b/w Grand and Broome Street) – 646.368.9240
Reservations Required

soul food done right at mitchell’s

It’s rare that I go into a place in NYC and forget where I am. Not because I’m lost but because it just doesn’t feel like NYC. New York, I love you, but I have to say finding this is refreshing. I walked into Mitchell’s after 9pm on a Thursday. We’d tried to call in an order for delivery but learned that the person who does delivery was gone for the evening. No worries. I’d go in person.

Mitchell's Soul Food - Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Mitchell’s Soul Food – Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

 “What desserts do you have? Do you have banana pudding?”

 “We don’t have that today. We have peach cobbler. And we have cake.” The way she said it, I thought they only had one kind of cake. When I walked in though I found that wasn’t the case. She was using it collectively, just like how all soda in the South is “Coke”. It made me smile.

 The dining room is nothing fancy. It’s all about the food here. It was on the later side for dinner, so when I was there it was mostly filled with people also waiting on orders to go. The tables are basic – topped by simple plastic tablecloths.

 I’ve said before I’m usually underwhelmed by the fried chicken most people rave about. Buttermilk Channel? Meh. The best I’ve found thus far had been Clinton Street Baking Company. Until now, that is. The fried chicken at Mitchell’s was only lightly breaded. The flavor made it obvious to me that they aren’t using super old oil, which was great to see (and taste!). The portion size was generous yet manageable. I usually try fried chicken at any given place only one time. I have to say, I don’t know that I could try any other main dish here now that I’ve had their fried chicken. So good.

Fried Chicken, Mac 'n Cheese, & Collards - Mitchell's

Fried Chicken, Mac ‘n Cheese, & Collards – Mitchell’s

For sides, I went with the mac ‘n cheese and collard greens. The mac was creamy enough but nothing extraordinary. It proved to be a nice balance to the strong pork flavor of the collard greens – and no, that is not a negative comment in the least. Both the fried chicken and collard greens are menu items not to miss.

To finish things off, we had the peach cobbler, which was quite good, even though I found myself wanting just a bit of vanilla ice cream. That’s me just being dessert greedy. The dough portion was not as sweet as others I’ve had, but it worked well with the sweeter peach portion. If this spot were closer to me one word… danger. All this food came to about $12 each. Not bad at all. Highly recommend.

Mitchell’s Soul Food – 617A Vanderbilt Ave @ St Marks Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn – 718.789.3212
No Reservations / Cash Only

fried chicken & whiskey buttermilk pie at hill country chicken

As a last dinner of sorts prior to her moving to London, my friend Anna and I made plans to go to Hill Country Chicken, a spot she recommended and that I’d been meaning to try for quite some time. The atmosphere is very casual – no table service. Instead, you walk up to the display counter, order, and then seat yourself.

When I walked in, I thought it was interesting to see that you could either order set dinners or order by the piece. Smart – so not hungry? Grab a chicken breast and a side, and you’re done. And that’s exactly what I did. I added their “blistered corn salad”, which was a spicy flavorful take on corn salad. And of course, I had to get one of their buttermilk biscuits, which was big, flaky, and fluffy – an essential addition to the meal.

Fried Chicken Dinner - Hill Country Chicken

Fried Chicken Dinner - Hill Country Chicken

And with so many options in their display, dessert was a must try. They have certain daily offerings as well as daily specials, one of which this day was their margarita pie with a pretzel crust.

How to decide?!?

How to decide?!?

And so much more!

And so much more!

I finally decided on the banana cream pie and the whiskey buttermilk pie. I couldn’t resist the banana cream pie and it’s awesome whipped cream topping – and it didn’t disappoint. The topping was vanilla bean flavored. If someone wanted to take vanilla bean ice cream and make it into a topping, this is what it would be. So good. And the filling was just slightly sweet and creamy. Perfect.

Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie

And a peek inside

And a peek inside

I tried a bite of the margarita pie, which was actually quite good. It was slightly less tart than a key lime pie and definitely tasted more like a margarita. And the pretzel crust was a nice touch. I’d be curious to see that with other desserts, but it worked well as another tie in to your traditional margarita. The whiskey buttermilk pie was also quite good. I usually like buttermilk pie just fine, but sometimes it seems a tad bland and lacking something. In this case, the whiskey brought that necessary something. Don’t like whiskey? Then this is not the option for you. I, on the other hand, really enjoyed it.

Whiskey Buttermilk Pie

Whiskey Buttermilk Pie

And next time, I already know what I’ll be trying… one of the worker’s recommended it as their most popular, but I couldn’t bring myself to choose it over so many other Southern staples. But next time, for sure.

Crème brûlée

Crème brûlée

Hill Country Chicken – 1123 Broadway (at 25th street) – 212.257.6446