At Chicken Scratch and The Foundry, Scratch the Chicken and You'll Be Fine

Oak Cliff's latest delivers decent sides, misses on the chicken and still manages a home run.

The sides and condiments are indicative of Byres' popular cooking back at Smoke. Collard greens are stunning. Smoked turkey necks lend earthy, meaty flavors balanced by aggressive vinegar and guajillo chilies, which lent smoke, heat and the color of wet rust. Tamales are good, too; packed with spicy chicken, the chubby corn husks look like they might burst if you didn't tear into them first. Mac and cheese and mashed potatoes taste like standard-issue, mom-prepared sides but biscuits are all over the place — doughy one day, and dry as a cracker the next.

You might be bummed out that Chicken Scratch charges for condiments (up to $1.50 for crackling gravy), but you'll have to get over it. The buttermilk ranch is thick, tangy and herbal, and Tejano Red should be bottled so the acidic spicy condiment can be added to anything and everything at home. The oregano vinegar honey, which is lightly applied to the chicken after it's fried, is available for purchase as well. Do it.

And while those mashed potatoes are nothing special, the gravy that tops them is magic. Byres skims the excess bits of breading that slough off the chicken during the frying process after every batch. "Crispies," he calls the little nodules of spent flour and seasoning, and they form the base for a delicious and peppery gravy that's sometimes as blond as a yeasty hefeweizen and other times dark and lusty. Order more of this, too, and if the weather is agreeable, wait for your bounty outside while sipping on a Deep Ellum Rye Pils, or any of the other beers poured next door. The combination makes a compelling experience that with more consistent cooking could easily keep the attention of casual Dallas diners for years to come.

Sides and a killer courtyard help Chicken Scratch overcome hit-or-miss chicken.
Catherine Downes
Sides and a killer courtyard help Chicken Scratch overcome hit-or-miss chicken.

Location Info

Map

Chicken Scratch

2303 Pittman St.
Dallas, TX 75208

Category: Restaurant > Soul Food

Region: Oak Cliff & South Dallas

Details

Chicken Scratch and The Foundry
Fried chicken $4.50-$14
Wood-roasted chicken $8.50-$14
Collards $2-$4
Mac and cheese $2-$4
Condiments $.50-$1.50
Tamales $2

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"This could be in Austin," a friend said back at our wooden picnic table one night. And it could. Two hundred miles away, a rival Texas city teems with innovative restaurants, compelling outdoor spaces and a certain grit and cool that draws in many trendsetting creatives. The Austin comparison has been made of other Dallas spots such as the Katy Trail Ice House and All Good Cafe. But while the Foundry and Chicken Scratch point to something increasingly not Dallas, lumping it in with Austin doesn't seem right either. "No, it's Oak Cliff," I countered. And rightly so.

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17 comments
ronnie
ronnie

Is the site where Jack's Backyard use to be...???

 

Thetipster
Thetipster

TOO MUCH OREGANO!!!!!!!! But made some awesome random friends in the yard!

ronnie
ronnie

Is the site where Jack's Backyard use to be...??

Chuck G.
Chuck G.

Oh yay, another restaurant review in Oak Cliff--what else is new? Too far, too out of the way for sub-par chicken. Let me know when you lazy, so-called food critics can make it to more restaurants north of 635 and/or west of I-35.

Melanie
Melanie

This is a standard gripe for many readers on this board, but I agree with other respondents. Its the Dallas Observer and focused on those of us who LIVE in Dallas. There are other vehicles for folks who live out in the burbs. When I grew up in Houston suburb, I never thought the Houston Press would write about the neighborhood joints. I've taken my kids to eat three times at Chicken Scratch and have greatly enjoyed it. Definitely have one of the house-made popsicles at the end. I agree about the chicken skin, but we still liked it. The quinoa salad was also nice and surprising.

Colin
Colin

You are reading the wrong magazine with the wrong target market if you want surburban restaurant reviews.

Beerme
Beerme

What an idiot. Firstly, the chicken is magnificant..this writer maybe missed the boat. Second, since Chicken Scratch opened, I've been there 3 times because I work close by. And it's worth driving in on a week night or weekend. Please stay out in the midcities, or wherever the hell you are...you don't deserve a place like this.

Chuck G.
Chuck G.

No, you're the moron actually for settling for half-ass, lazy food critics such as this one that only cater to restaurants in the heat island. And nobody gives a rats ass that you work at the local sewage treatment plant "close by" either.

Cliff Dweller
Cliff Dweller

Dear Grumpy Old Man Chuck G, this the DALLAS Observer you are reading. 90% of its readers live south of 635 and east of 35. No one wants to hear about restaurants in Frisco, Plano or HEB. How about you start your own Surbananite Observer and stop being a hater...

Ozonedude
Ozonedude

Breaking: Local foodie annoyed absolute no one will pay money to eat fried chicken on Henderson Avenue. Takes it out on kinda sorta ghetto fast food shack.

Beda
Beda

I've only eaten there once, but the chicken missed the mark for me. I will give it a second try. Didn't care for the sides either. (Gennie's is my gold standard for sides with chicken fried). My favorite fried chicken in Dallas is Chicken House (Sissy's is on my list); best chicken ever is Lil Dizzy's in New Orleans.

ObserverFan
ObserverFan

Thanks for ending with that Austin comment. Dallasites need to break the habit of thinking every outdoor relaxed joint "feels like Austin". I'm guilty of doing it myself.

Robbie Good
Robbie Good

Had the fried chicken opening weekend, cooked by Tim, and it was easily within my top 3 plates of fried chicken I've ever had. Up with Willie Maes Scotch House in New Orleans.

Now that you mention it, sure I think the skin fell off, but the flavors were so unbelievable I couldn't have cared less. In fact I scooped up some crunchy skin crumbles with my mac and cheese when all the chicken was gone. Mmmm

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

Skin coming off doesn't sound like a deal-breaker to me. A lot of people nowadays would just take it off anyway.

They do earn one middle finger for charging extra for gravy though.

Sam
Sam

So, how would you compare their fried chicken to Sassy's?

It seems like a lack of execution with everything and nothing infuriates me more than overcooked whole-birds. I think I mentioned it in your roast chicken post. But everyone's so afraid of undercooked chicken, that it gets so overcooked while dining out. I think it can be one of the most majestic meats/flavors but it's just rarely happens.

Furthermore, if you're a "chicken place" and the chicken ain't good or cooked properly, then we got problems.

Scott Reitz
Scott Reitz

Sissy's?

Hobb's bird is way more consistent. He uses a pressure frier that imparts a perfect crust that stays put, and juicy flesh -- the seasoning is much more subdued, though. Perhaps if Hobbs and Byres joined forces super bird would result.

 
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