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2016 is the year of the chicken. The Chinese zodiac may not recognize it, but D.C.’s food scene will. Chefs’ obsession with pork belly and “face” bacon is giving way to thighs and drumsticks. Consider that two of the most raved-about new dishes of last year were the Taiwanese-style fried chicken at Maketto and the Southern-style fried chicken at Boss Shepherd’s, and that’s just the beginning. Here are five examples of chicken getting its due this year.
The Chick’n Shack
Burger bastion Shake Shack is no longer all about beef. On Jan. 14, the popular restaurant chain debuted the Chick’n Shack, its first chicken sandwich. Cage-free, antibiotic-free, hormone-free chicken is marinated in buttermilk, battered, and fried before it’s stacked with pickles, shredded lettuce, and a buttermilk mayo with chives, parsley, and thyme. The stuffings are cushioned by a potato roll, and Louisiana hot sauce is available as a condiment. Think of it as an upgraded take on the McChicken.
The Kinship Roast Chicken
At Eric Ziebold’s long-awaited Shaw restaurant, Kinship, the dish that’s quickly becoming a signature and a favorite is a simple roast chicken. The black feathered bird from upstate New York is cooked with a lemon-garlic panade under the skin, deboned, and served with pommes rissolées (the fancy French term for browned potatoes), frisée salad, and Parker House rolls. It may cost $56, but it feeds at least two. And while Kinship’s menu offers more decadent dishes like lobster French toast and whole roasted foie gras, this one is an unfussy comfort. “You don’t have to think about the chicken,” says Ziebold. “It’s just delicious.”
The team behind The Pig is flocking toward poultry for their next venture. What started as a fast-casual restaurant devoted to fried chicken has morphed into a full-service eatery at 11th and O streets NW that will highlight birds of all feathers. Aside from roast chicken and chicken soup, The Pig chef Michael Bonk will prepare dishes incorporating duck, squab, quail, turkey, and grouse. The two-story restaurant, complete with second floor patio, is set to open in late summer.
The chicken-centered fast-casual restaurant from Toronto opened in Dupont Circle at the start of the year. Founded by David Adjey, who’s starred on various Food Network Canada shows, the franchise focuses on roast chickens—whole, halved, or quartered. Other offerings include chicken fingers and chicken “feathers” (wider and flatter than the fingers) paired with dipping sauces like ginger-jalapeno-plum and smoky ancho barbecue.
The name of this restaurant pretty much says it all. Coming to 928 U St. NW, the eatery plans to serve everything from barbecue chicken to fried chicken, a rep from the restaurant told Borderstan. And it may be open 24 hours a day, which means chicken all the time.
Shake Shack photo (top) by Liz Clayman. The Chickery photo courtesy The Chickery.