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Resurrect the bird

The Crack Shack is all things chicken and egg

The Firebird
The Firebird
Place

Crack Shack

2266 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego

For decades, chicken has gotten a bad rap. Looked down upon by sophisticated palates, this lean and mild meat is routinely dismissed as the vodka of proteins. Growing up, all of the chicken that I ate was overcooked (thanks Mom for keeping us safe from salmonella!) and therefore as dry as it was flavorless.

Crack Shack patio at night

As a young adult, I quickly learned that ordering “the chicken” at a restaurant was akin to asking for the kid’s menu. Not counting the succulent fried version at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles in L.A., it wasn’t until I tasted my first properly cooked Jidori chicken that I realized chicken meat could be tender, juicy, and flavorful. After taste-testing a Mary’s free-range chicken alongside a traditional, factory-raised version, I knew there was no going back.

photo

After demolishing a Firebird

In recent years, revisionist chefs have resurrected the bird, and now there’s an entire restaurant concept based on chicken from one of America’s top chefs, Richard Blais, and his chef-partner Jon Sloan. Appropriating the theme of another single-meat-centric shack in town (Carnitas’ Snack Shack, which is all things pork), this one, The Crack Shack, is all things chicken and egg and promises to be sourced locally from quality, organic free-range chicken farms.

Buffalo Mushrooms — buffalo veggies are a current trend around town

I attended the opening night many months ago, and I was happy with each finger-licking bite, but it wasn’t until a recent afternoon that, after making the drive back from an event in Orange County, a hungry and thirsty David and Barb stopped in for a late lunch. We both gravitated toward the Firebird, which is fried chicken thigh, ranch, crispy onions, and pickles on a fresh brioche bun ($10). David tried to eat it by hand and was surprisingly successful, but after my first attempt at a bite I swallowed my pride and opted for the utensils. The Baja Hot Sauce (one of six sauces on offer, including Kimchi BBQ and Curry Mustard) from the condiment bar paired perfectly with each bite. I was careful to arrange each forkful so that it contained all of the elements: a thin slice of salty, vinegary pickle, savory crisped onion, sweet brioche, and mouthwatering chicken, with its crunchy fried skin.

Oyster chicken bites

Instead of fries we shared the spicy Buffalo Mushrooms, which came with Point Reyes Blue cheese, pickled celery and carrots, and a pleasantly burning Tabasco-like sauce ($10). I enjoyed them more than David, who felt their mushroom-ness was lost inside the breaded and buffaloed exterior.

We were satisfied with our fry-fest, which was complemented by several refreshing gin-based craft cocktails. The sandwiches were delicious, if a bit overwhelming. The Buffalo Mushrooms were tasty, but we were so full of sandwich that we only managed a few bites of the mushrooms.

It’s not the sort of food to be eating every day, but as the occasional splurge it was great. David and I agreed that on our next visit we’d share either some of the bite-ables (such as the Chicken Oysters) with cocktails or one of the salads, to which we could add at least five different types of chicken.

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The Firebird
The Firebird
Place

Crack Shack

2266 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego

For decades, chicken has gotten a bad rap. Looked down upon by sophisticated palates, this lean and mild meat is routinely dismissed as the vodka of proteins. Growing up, all of the chicken that I ate was overcooked (thanks Mom for keeping us safe from salmonella!) and therefore as dry as it was flavorless.

Crack Shack patio at night

As a young adult, I quickly learned that ordering “the chicken” at a restaurant was akin to asking for the kid’s menu. Not counting the succulent fried version at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles in L.A., it wasn’t until I tasted my first properly cooked Jidori chicken that I realized chicken meat could be tender, juicy, and flavorful. After taste-testing a Mary’s free-range chicken alongside a traditional, factory-raised version, I knew there was no going back.

photo

After demolishing a Firebird

In recent years, revisionist chefs have resurrected the bird, and now there’s an entire restaurant concept based on chicken from one of America’s top chefs, Richard Blais, and his chef-partner Jon Sloan. Appropriating the theme of another single-meat-centric shack in town (Carnitas’ Snack Shack, which is all things pork), this one, The Crack Shack, is all things chicken and egg and promises to be sourced locally from quality, organic free-range chicken farms.

Buffalo Mushrooms — buffalo veggies are a current trend around town

I attended the opening night many months ago, and I was happy with each finger-licking bite, but it wasn’t until a recent afternoon that, after making the drive back from an event in Orange County, a hungry and thirsty David and Barb stopped in for a late lunch. We both gravitated toward the Firebird, which is fried chicken thigh, ranch, crispy onions, and pickles on a fresh brioche bun ($10). David tried to eat it by hand and was surprisingly successful, but after my first attempt at a bite I swallowed my pride and opted for the utensils. The Baja Hot Sauce (one of six sauces on offer, including Kimchi BBQ and Curry Mustard) from the condiment bar paired perfectly with each bite. I was careful to arrange each forkful so that it contained all of the elements: a thin slice of salty, vinegary pickle, savory crisped onion, sweet brioche, and mouthwatering chicken, with its crunchy fried skin.

Oyster chicken bites

Instead of fries we shared the spicy Buffalo Mushrooms, which came with Point Reyes Blue cheese, pickled celery and carrots, and a pleasantly burning Tabasco-like sauce ($10). I enjoyed them more than David, who felt their mushroom-ness was lost inside the breaded and buffaloed exterior.

We were satisfied with our fry-fest, which was complemented by several refreshing gin-based craft cocktails. The sandwiches were delicious, if a bit overwhelming. The Buffalo Mushrooms were tasty, but we were so full of sandwich that we only managed a few bites of the mushrooms.

It’s not the sort of food to be eating every day, but as the occasional splurge it was great. David and I agreed that on our next visit we’d share either some of the bite-ables (such as the Chicken Oysters) with cocktails or one of the salads, to which we could add at least five different types of chicken.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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