For this week's review I checked out Chicken Scratch and the Foundry, a one two punch in Oak Cliff that will certainly draw big crowds all summer long. The space is amazing, and I found myself hanging out there way longer than was required to evaluate the food.
Chef Tim Byres uses bold flavors in his new chicken shack. Sweetness is a reoccurring theme found in slightly sugary fries and honey-drizzled chicken. Collard greens are amazing, smoky and bright; crackling gravy is addictive; the mac and cheese is great; but the chicken gave me pause.
Fried chicken is not healthy. It never ever will be. But frying technique, oil temperature and other variables have a big impact on how much fat you end up consuming when you pound a drumstick. A few of the breast portions I received at Chicken Scratch had torn skin that either stuck to the bottom of the pan or blew out in the hot oil. That tear let oil in between the skin and flesh, leading to unnecessarily greasy chicken.
The skin didn't stay put, either -- sloughing off in sheets and ruining that delicate balance of salty crunchy skin and juicy flesh that makes each bite of fried chicken so damn addictive. I talked to Byres about the issue, and it could be his storage method. He lets the chicken rest a little before serving it to his guests and steam can build up beneath the skin while it sits. Shallow frying is also a finicky method of producing chicken and is prone to inconsistencies.
I asked if he was working on a fix to the problem, but I'm not sure he agreed it was a problem. Byres was apologetic but in the end said "I'm just trying to fry chicken, man." I wish it wasn't so damn flavorful. Every time I checked out The Foundry, I found myself dipping into Chicken Scratch for at least a quarter bird, hoping the skin issue would resolve itself. For now though, I've had my fill.
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Or not. It's such a great place for a beer.