Photo of Momofuku fried chicken dinner by Gabriele Stabile
Photo of Momofuku fried chicken dinner by Gabriele Stabile

A three-star Michelin chef in New York is cooking chicken parm and Caesar salad for patrons of The NoMad Bar. Dubbed “Mamma Guidara’s,” the Sunday dinners launching Oct. 2 are a project between Chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park and The NoMad and Restaurateur Will Guidara.

The red sauce Italian meal is one of many examples of highly-lauded chefs taking a break from fussing over foie gras or shaving black truffles to instead churn out cutesy, family-style “takes” on what most of America eats for dinner. Is this annoying or awesome? Is it nostalgic and chummy or smug? How many multiples better is their version of the dinner you typically make on Tuesdays? 

No doubt, the fried chicken dinner kicked this trend off. What was one of America’s simplest, most wallet-friendly meals is now a speciality of restaurants that don’t let you wear shorts. And chefs, well, they’re one-upping each other. Maybe one violates the bird by jamming mushroom duxelle under its skin before dropping it into the deep fryer, while another rolls the finished product around in rooftop honey that’s saving urban bees. 

Momofuku CCDC asks $135 (serves 4-6) for its fried chicken dinner that under Chef David Chang’s wing has Asian flair. It comes with two whole fried chickens, moo shu pancakes, something called a “bounty bowl,” and three sauces. It also comes with a long list of Frequently Asked Questions. 

Right now you can get 22 pieces of fried chicken in mixed, mild, or spicy flavor at the 14th Street NW location of Popeyes for $21.99 (check their coupons). There’s only one question. Is it delicious? Yes. 

Chef Aaron Silverman of Rose’s Luxury, who doesn’t have a Michelin star (yet), also gets playful with plebeian meals. He serves family-style smoked brisket with what tastes like Wonder Bread, plus horseradish and slaw. The dish has been on the menu since the restaurant opened, suggesting it’s in high demand.

Here, the price tag is more friendly at $31. If two people tackle it, the per-diner cost is less than a small smoke house combo at Kenny’s BBQ on Maryland Avenue NE. Props for that. 

Will we see the day that an “elevated” pot roast dinner comes with a visit from a sommelier? Or, a “whimsical play” on a clam bake calls for the seafood to bathe in uni water?