Pies 'N' Thighs
166 South 4th St, Brooklyn
Price Range: $10-$20
Rating: 4 out of 5 L's
The old Pies 'N' Thighs [RIP 2008) had a kind of hobo charm to it. The J train rumbling overhead as you tucked into a juicy chicken breast in an isolated alley. After it closed, rumors of its reemergence haunted the internet for years. Fried chicken addicts got their fix at nearby Egg and Roberta's, temporary homes to Pies 'N' Thighs alums Stephen Tanner and Carolyn Bane, respectively, while sugar junkies headed across the river to Momofuku Milk Bar to sample Sarah Buck's sweet creations. Well, the band is back together again (minus Tanner and plus original partner Erika Geldzahler), and the results are phenomenal.
The industrial feel is gone. In its place is an inviting ambience even a grandma could love; in fact, I spotted more than a few grandmas during my visits. That's a good thing. It points to a country vibe that is more genuine and nostalgic than ironic, a quality that is reflected in everything from the service to the space to the food. Servers are warm and patient, despite the inevitable onslaught of devoted fans. The restaurant itself, with its homey front dining area and garage-like back room, is tastefully appointed with flowers and a smattering of antique paintings and signs. The food isn't some fancy New Brookyln reimagining of Southern cooking—it's Americana with a capital A, plain and simple and delicious.
Of course, we must start with the chicken. It's so juicy it almost seems alive, kept moist by a brine bath and crispy through an appointment with some extremely hot oil. You order it in a Chicken Box, a little party of a plate that includes one side and one buttery biscuit. Oh those sides! Hot hush puppies—cornmeal balls with a side of tartar sauce—are a testament to the virtues of the fryer. The mac and cheese foregoes Gruyere-and-panko-related frippery for cheddar and a touch of hot sauce. Soft and savory and piquant, the collards could tempt even Josh Ozersky to eat his vegetables.
The chicken biscuit looks ridiculous, like a fat man in a fez, a hulking, heat-and-honey kissed chicken breast sticking out from between two relatively diminutive (although no less tasty) biscuits. Both the tangy pulled pork and barbecue sauce-slathered brisket come on classic white hamburger buns, as does the weighty burger, which is sourced from neighborhood locavorium the Meat Hook and adorned simply with a thick slice of American cheese, lettuce, onion and tomato.
Don't forget dessert: Pies including chocolate pudding, Nilla-topped banana cream and more, all available by the slice, plus cookies, donuts and whatever else Sarah has baked that morning. Yes, you'll be heaving like a hog, a grease-stained smile on your face, but trust me—you'll make room.
Pies 'N' Tighs