the bird in soma....it's just chicken, again
Well, who knew this would become such a trend! I mean, it feels like I just ate at a place like this. Wait! I did! I'm looking at you Organic Coup! Granted, fried chicken sandwiches are as prevalent as burgers here (see Starbird, Bakesale Betty) but did we need another place where that is all they serve? Adriano Pagnanini seems to think so. I guess he does sort of know what he is doing with his burgeoning food empire of Super Duper Burger, Uno Dos Tacos, Delarosa, to name a few. Now into the fray comes The Bird, part of the same fast casual atmosphere as his other ventures.
It's taken over the old space which used to be The Melt. Remember that one? It wasn't his, but it was a place trying to specialize in one thing, grilled cheese, yet not living up to the hype. Especially seeing as how they switched over to burgers and then abruptly closed. But hey, maybe he'll be able to make this work where others haven't.
In the beginning he's said they are trying out only offering the sandwich and curly fries. They are also limiting it to 200 sandwiches a day. Once they sell through, that is it, something to keep in mind. If this plays well, the goal will be to slowly roll out additions to the menu, along with more locations.
I saw the write ups about the place and they followed me on twitter (thanks for that!), but I figured I'd let the hype of a new place to eat in San Francisco die down some before giving them a try. Mostly because, I saw a few photos of folks lining up and lines ain't my thing. Plus, if they are only serving a limited amount, I'm just not going to be able to get there early enough to get one. Yeah, yeah, call me a bad SF foodie, whatever, eventually I'd be able to not have to endure all that rigmarole. Imagine my surprise then, when on a recent Friday, I was strolling by the place around 2:30ish pm and not only was it still open, there was NO LINE! Folks were there, but it wasn't packed. For a Friday lunch time, I figured they would have sold out, but lucky me, there were still a few left. So I sidled up the counter and ordered 1 chicken sandwich $8 and 1 side of curly fries $2.50.
A large, battered and deep fried chicken breast on a toasted bun with sliced pickles, celery, mayo and apple slaw. The breast seems to be double battered which helps make it extra crisp and crunchy. It also has a berbere spice blend mixed in which gives it some subtle flavors of chili and garlic. The white meat inside is also tender and juicy. The slaw is a tangy, almost vinegary mix of purple cabbage, apple and I'm pretty sure some red onion. Kind of (more) crunchy and slightly sweet. A nice combo with the pickle slices. For the price, it is also a big hefty portion. The sandwich comes in a spicy version also with their house made sriracha. I'd say get the regular like I did as they have the spicy sauce in a pump next to the ketchup. You can get your own side of it and spice more to your taste likes. It is worth trying as the kick is another nice flavor blend with the slaw, mayo and chicken.
From first bite to last, I hated myself for how much I actually liked this sandwich. I'm not Mikey, I don't dislike everything, but rarely am I really into a sandwich of all things. Sure, there are good ones in town, but few get themselves up to, "boy that was REALLY GOOD, I want another one!' for me, but this one did. Who knows, maybe I was very hungry or just delirious from running errands all day. Whatever the reason, I gobbled it up and enjoyed every deep fried bit.
Sadly, the same cannot be said of the curly fries. Maybe the late time of day had an affect on the portion I got. They were not fresh, hot and crispy out of the fryer. They were room temp to cold and soft. Not the best thing for a fry, whether curly or not. They do offer a loaded version of these with bacon, chives and cheese curds for $4, but if they fries aren't hot and crispy, even bacon isn't going to help--too much.
While the fries were a bummer, they didn't take away from the delight that was the fried chicken sandwich. It is definitely a sandwich I can eat again and again....and again. I'm still won't stand in line for it, but now I know I don't really have to. I just need to coordinate my time properly after their lunch rush and I'll still be able to get their super duper chicken sandwich. The Bird is definitely doing one thing right. Take that KFC!