164 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
Sweet Chick has made Bedford Avenue a better place. Its fried chicken may not be as crispy as the birds served at Pies ‘n’ Thighs, and its sunny environs lack the grandad swagger of the Commodore’s dark barroom, but this new chicken joint still has a lot to offer—and it’s no secret. The place opens for dinner at 6pm on Sundays, and when we visited, it felt like a house party when it hit full capacity half an hour later. A petite bartendress in a threadbare T-shirt served pints of Keegan’s Mothers Milk Stout, cans of Genessee, and mile-wide smiles to the baseball-capped guys at the bar. Groups of preppy chicks and bros, sunglasses perched on their tawny heads, shared communal picnic tables with pale and rumpled groups of friends, each clique happily clinking pints over the blaring Southern rock. Cute couples leaned in over shared bowls of creamy gruyere-fontina-cheddar mac n’ cheese and cocktail glasses of punchy hibiscus-mint margaritas. And while the loud, tightly packed room isn’t really geared toward little kids, the heavily bearded, amply tattooed maitre’d didn’t pass our table without flashing a peek-a-boo at our 2-year-old.
As for the chicken, it’s suitably crunchy on the outside and juicy within. My husband, a fried chicken purist who has his birthdays catered by our local branch of Crown Fried Chicken, said he would’ve appreciated a warning about the subtle unexpected touch of rosemary mixed into the batter. (He still polished off an entire bucket of the stuff—three pieces of chicken with a bowl of collard slaw and a buttermilk biscuit on the side.)
When it comes to vegetarian options, Sweet Chick has its competitors beat. We predict that many a junk food-lovin’ herbivore will go nuts for their softball-sized hunks of vegetarian fried “chicken.” Its interior was lighter than a processed chick patty, with a sweet chewiness that played off its crunchy, well-seasoned batter. Served with puffy, buttery classic waffles (which also come in bacon-cheddar or rosemary-mushroom flavors) and a drizzle of maple syrup, this McNugget-y non-chicken wasn’t bad at all. Plus, with plenty of sides, salads and non-poultry entrees (like pork tenderloin, rib-eye steaks, and arctic char with beans and preserved lemons), Sweet Chick is more of a full-scale restaurant than some of its local fried-chicken peers. Decorated with waffle irons, American flags and rooster statues, its sunny country kitchen dining room is appropriate for visiting parents, and everybody really did seem to feel at home. As we bid farewell to our bearded host my son asked hopefully, “Mommy, that guy wanna come to our house?” Probably not, but we’ll be back here.
Photo by Daniel Krieger