Whistle Britches is a happy spot. A partly covered patio leads into a bright, sunny dining room accented by bright yellow and rusty orange accents. What used to be a Sonic drive-in and then the now-departed Spork has been transformed into a quirky space with a menu full of oh-so-trendy Southern fare — buttermilk biscuits, spiced okra and a riff on Nashville's hot chicken. There's also a full bar, a nice craft beer selection and some serious talent behind it all: Omar Flores, the chef behind Casa Rubia and a 2016 semifinalist for James Beard's Best Chef: Southwest award.
A recent lunch at the new North Dallas eatery started sweetly with the creamed corn hoecakes, a little stack of fluffy cornmeal pancakes topped with scallion, Steens cane syrup and a sprinkle of popped sorghum, which unfortunately read more like stale popcorn and proved distracting. Learn from our mistakes and take a moment to spread the massive dollop of airy butter onto the other pancakes, rather than just taking a big ol' bite straight from the stack. A little butter is a good thing — a mouthful of butter will teach you a lesson in patience.
Fried chicken is the centerpiece here, and you've got several options: four crispy tenders for $14, a three-piece (one white, one dark, one wing) with a side and a biscuit for $16 or the $34 Whole Bucket, a 10-piece order with two biscuits, coleslaw and potato salad. The three-piece order proved to be far more than one mere human could handle, plus it came with potato salad and a massive biscuit.
Fried chicken is a simple dish, but to hit the mark requires a delicate balance between crunchy, flavorful breading on the outside and juicy meat on the inside. The breading was, indeed, crispy and the meat was juicy, but otherwise, this fried chicken just didn't have that wow factor. It wasn't too greasy nor too salty, but something was missing — perhaps in the seasoning, or maybe the stars just weren't aligned. The array of house-made hot sauces on the table helped, but on its own, this fried chicken just didn't have that crave-worthy flavor you find at spots like Rudy's or Williams Chicken. Those joints may serve up a simpler fried chicken, but they proved more memorable (and certainly more affordable) in the end.
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While the biscuit was beautifully flaky and buttery, the potato salad, too, proved underwhelming, despite its admirable excess of scallion. All in all, a first visit to Whistle Britches didn't leave us craving more — but it's still early for this new spot, so there's plenty of time for improvement. The concept is fun, but Dallas' over-saturation of both Southern food and fried chicken means it's not always easy to stand out from the crowd. With such a sweet space and massive talent running the show, this fried chicken joint has potential.
Whistle Britches, 6110 Frankford Road. Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday & Saturday