Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Restaurant review: Chicken Scratch doesn’t just mark the surface, it delves into the soul
It's a playground for kids and grownups alike.
OAK CLIFF In Oak Cliff, somewhere between the lush, sprawling garden and dutifully arranged piles of repurposed furniture, you can hear someone swearing off KFC forever.
In a tribute to the la-di-da days of family picnics and monkey bars, SMOKE legend Tim Byers has opened Chicken Scratch, a "slow fast food" shack that gives new meaning to the term locavore. Essentially, it's a playground for both kids and grown-ups.
For those old enough to remember New Kids on the Block, the highlight is the hormone-free local farm chicken itself, which you can get in fried, rotisserie, or tender form, in quarter, half, or whole sizes. Tenders are shallowly fried and cooked with an oregano-vinegar-honey sauce, giving them a flavor that's both sweet and spicy. Try them with crackling gravy or nothing at all because, like the from-scratch fries, they pack plenty of flavor on their own. And that's coming from a ranchaholic.
While you're busy comforting both your soul and your tummy, kids can let off steam playing hopscotch or Twister, both painted onto concrete near the picnic tables. Cool off with house-made sodas, and if you're lucky enough to snag the tableside swing chair, you can indulge your inner 7-year-old. (Just remember to share with the actual 7-year-olds.)
But Chicken Scratch is more than just a lesson in comfort food. With third- and fourth-hand couches and chairs tucked into little nooks built from reclaimed wood pallets, it's a lesson in recycling. Heavy shipping crates form what can only be called Dallas's coolest entertainment stage. Neighbor bar The Foundry features equally eclectic art and furniture, with garage-style doors that open up to the stage and patio.
If it sounds like there's a lot going on here, it's because there is. But it all boils down to one wholesome concept: a place to reconnect and enjoy the simple things, taking a break from our on-the-go lifestyles. That said, I'll leave you with a few pieces of advice: If you're brave enough to play Twister, bring knee pads. And if you decide to split a whole chicken, come prepared with a divide-and-conquer game plan. That ought to give you a head start ... at least until you have to decide between dark and white meat.
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